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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

On budget day, Rs 21,000 a piece, made-in-Wuhan tablets for all Haryana lawmakers

Congress MLA Varun Chaudhary raised fears over spread of the virus, saying: “Why risk the lives of members of Haryana Vidhan Sabha for a publicity stunt of presenting the budget digitally?"

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Updated: February 29, 2020 4:31:14 pm
haryana budget, coronavirus scare, wuhan made tablets for mlas, mlas get tablets from wuhan, indian express Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar presents the Budget as his deputy Dushyant Chautala and Home Minister Anil Vij check their tablets, in Chandigarh on Friday. (Express Photo: Jasbir Malhi)

In a first, Haryana’s legislators were Friday given tablets in the Vidhan Sabha before state’s budget for the 2020-21 was presented. The tablet held the entire document for the MLAs to read. The Lenovo tablets that cost Rs 21,000 a piece have been manufactured in China’s Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Congress MLA Varun Chaudhary raised fears over spread of the virus, saying: “Why risk the lives of members of Haryana Vidhan Sabha for a publicity stunt of presenting the budget digitally? These tablets given today are manufactured in December, 2019 in Wuhan, which is the epicentre of coronavirus. This virus was first reported in December, 2019 — exactly around the same period when these tablets were manufactured, packed and sent to India. It is beyond my understanding why the government could only find Wuhan manufactured tablets, especially at this virus-affected time? Did the government bother to scan if these tablets were virus-affected or not? I have complained it to the Chief Secretary.”

Before Khattar began his speech, Speaker Gian Chand Gupta said it was for the first time anywhere in the country that tabs were given to legislators to read the budget in digital form. Khattar, however, presented Budget 2020-21 in the state Assembly reading out the 68-page document in Hindi in the old-fashioned print version.

While Wuhan-made tablets made to Haryana House, in neighbouring Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on Wednesday told the state Assembly that the distribution of smartphones to youth in the state — one of Congress’ poll promises — was delayed because of the outbreak of coronovirus in China.

No English version of budget booklets

The journalists of English dailies were not provided English version of budget booklets this time. Government officials told media persons that the English version was not printed. The Budget booklets, printed only in Hindi, were distributed in the press gallery of the Vidhan Sabha. Certain officials, on condition of anonymity, said that earlier a budget document used to be first prepared in English and then translated in Hindi. It was the discretion of the Finance Minister if he wanted to read the Budget in English or Hindi. However, this time, the document was first prepared in Hindi and the translated version could never attain finality.

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