New Delhi: With the budget underlining his government's rural pitch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked NDA MPs to bring maximum farmers under the new crop insurance policy while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asserted that it will address agriculture distress.
At a meeting attended by MPs of BJP and its allies, except Shiv Sena, Jaitley spoke in detail about the budget, underscoring that it also seeks to give a fillip to economic growth by improving infrastructure and business and investment climate.
Sena MPs did not attend the meeting, saying they were not "informed" about it. "There was some communication gap," its MP Anandrao Adsul said.
Jaitley told the MPs that the government was making all out efforts to created an "insured and pensioned" society and highlighted steps like health insurance and life cover announced for the masses, sources said.
BJP and its allies expect that the budget will help them blunt the opposition's charge that the government had an "anti-farmer" bias at a time when assembly polls are due in five states, including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and West Bengal, in April-May. Crucial UP election is scheduled for next year.
The over one-hour meeting saw a brief intervention by Modi when he asked MPs to work towards taking the benefit of newly announced 'Pradhan Manti Fasal Bima Yojana' to farmers.
He urged NDA MPs to take this as a challenge in their constituencies, the sources said.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who was also present, lauded the budget for its pro-farmer and pro-village thrust.
The JNU row and the debate in Parliament over it also found a mention with Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu giving an account of developments in JNU and Hyderabad Central University and urging the members to counter opposition's charges.
He praised HRD Minister Smriti Irani's "spirited reply" and members too joined in with "loud clapping", they said.
Irani's reply has sparked a row with opposition members giving notice for privilege motion against her, accusing her of "misleading" the House.