Amit Shah’s Rajya Sabha Speech: 2 Claims Right, 3 Wrong, 3 Partly Right, 2 Unclear

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah attacked the opposition in his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of Parliament) on February 5, 2018.

 

We fact-checked 10 claims made by Shah, of which two were true, three false, three partly true, and two unclear.

 

Three claims made by Shah on direct benefit transfer (DBT), shell companies, dynasty and caste politics were false: He exaggerated DBT savings by Rs 20,856 crore for 2015-16; claimed that over 73,000 more shell companies were closed by the government than actually were; the BJP also has dynasts, and crimes against scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) have increased by 6% and 5%, respectively, over one year to 2016 as per the latest data available. His claims on goods and services tax (GST), fertiliser factories and gas subsidies were partly true.

 

Here are the 10 claims made by Shah on our fact-o-meter:

 

Claim 1: We have opened 310 million bank accounts through the Jan Dhan Yojana scheme with deposits worth Rs 73,000 crore. Every family today has a bank account.

 

 

Fact: True.

 

As many as 310 million bank accounts have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana–a financial inclusion scheme to provide universal access to basic banking facilities and services–as on January 24, 2018, according to this reply by Shiv Pratap Shukla, minister of state in the ministry of finance, to the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) on February 2, 2018. The accounts have deposits of Rs 73,588 crore.

 

Claim 2: There were 18,000 villages that did not have access to electricity when we came to power. We have completed the work of providing electricity to 16,000 villages.

 

 

Fact: True.

 

About 16,282 villages, or 88%, have been electrified of the 18,452 unelectrified villages as on February 5, 2018, according to data from Grameen Vidyutikaran (GARV), a real-time dashboard tracking rural electrification. However, only 8% (1,290) of these villages have all (100%) households electrified, according to GARV data.

 

Claim 3: In 2016-17, more than 50 million farmers have benefited due to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

 

 

Fact: Unclear.

 

As many as 57 million farmers have been insured under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) for Rs 202,145 crore in 2016-17, according to this reply by agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh to the Lok Sabha on December 19, 2017.

 

It is, however, unclear how many farmers have benefited by having their claims processed under the scheme.

 

Claim 4: Our government has re-started six urea factories which were closed under the regime of various governments. More than 35 million farmers have been provided with soil health cards.

 

 

Fact: Partly true

 

The government is reviving five closed fertiliser plants by setting up new ammonia urea plants, each with a production capacity of 1.3 million metric tonne per annum, according to this reply to the Lok Sabha by Rao Inderjit Singh, minister of state in the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, on December 19, 2017.

 

The cabinet had approved the setting up of a new ammonia urea complex at Namrup within the existing premises of Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation in 2015, Singh said.

 

As many as 110 million soil health cards have been issued to farmers in the last two phases (2015-17) and (2017-19) with an expenditure of Rs 368 crore, according to this reply to the Rajya Sabha by Parshottam Rupala, minister of state in the ministry of agriculture, on December 29, 2017.

 

Claim 5: The biggest economic reform in the world that has happened is in the form of GST, and it has happened in India. BJP never opposed GST, but opposed method of  implementation.

 

 

Fact: Partly True

 

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh had blamed the BJP for ‘blocking’ GST, according to this article in the Indian Express on February 11, 2011.

 

“The reasons that have been given, frankly, I cannot mention it in public. They say because you have taken some decision against a particular person, who was a minister in Gujarat (Amit Shah), we must reverse it,” Singh had claimed.

 

“On October 23, 2013, the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government opposed the UPA government’s attempt to pass the 115th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2011 to enact GST regime,” Governance Now reported on June 29, 2017.

 

Narendra Modi, then Gujarat chief minister, had tweeted in February 2014, before the Lok Sabha elections that BJP was not against GST, and it would be difficult to implement without having a proper digital infrastructure.

 

 

Claim 6: The country has been able to save Rs 57,000 crore from  DBT every year, which I feel is a big achievement.

 

 

Fact: False

 

The government has not been able to save Rs 57,000 crore every year, as Shah claimed. While Rs 57,029 crore was saved due to DBT in 2016-17, only Rs 36,144 crore was saved in 2015-16, according to official data.

 

Claim 7: Notebandi (demonetisation) resulted in a crackdown on black money. We have closed over 300,000 shell companies.

 

 

Fact: False

 

Post demonetisation, the government identified 297,000 companies that were not operating or filing annual returns for two or more years, according to this reply by P.P Chaudhary, minister of state for law and justice and corporate affairs, to the Lok Sabha on January 5, 2018. Of these, 226,166 companies were removed by the Registrars of Companies as on December 19, 2017.

 

As many as 309,619 directors have been disqualified for not filing annual returns for a continuous period of three financial years, the minister said.

 

Claim 8: I am happy to say that about 13 million people gave up gas subsidies under Prime Minister’s initiative.

 

 

Fact: Partly True

 

Over 10 million LPG consumers have voluntarily surrendered their subsidy under ‘Give It Up’ campaign as on January 30, 2018, according to this reply by petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan to the Lok Sabha on February 5, 2018.

 

Claim 9: It is our primary objective to modernise security forces for internal security.

 

 

Fact: Unclear

 

Over three years to 2017-18, there was a 9% decline in budget allocation for capital investments against requirements, or “projections” in officialese, a factor that could delay procurement and modernisation of the armed forces, IndiaSpend reported on January 31, 2018

 

The air force capital budget was 46% lower than its requirements, the army’s was 41% and the navy’s 32%, the report said.

 

Claim 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has uprooted dynasty politics, caste politics and appeasement, which were deep rooted in our democracy.

 

 

Fact: False.

 

Dynasty and caste politics continue in India.

 

The Congress party has long been accused of dynasty politics. Rahul Gandhi has now taken charge as the  president of the Congress party, the fourth-generation leader from the Nehru-Gandhi family.

 

Not just the Congress, the BJP also practises dynasty politics at the national and regional level, The Wire reported on September 25, 2017.

 

Poonam Mahajan, daughter of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, is a member of parliament (MP) and the national secretary of the BJP.

 

Pankaja Munde, daughter of late Gopinath Munde who was a cabinet minister in the Modi government, is a minister in the Maharashtra government and her sister Pritam Munde is an MP from Beed constituency.

 

 

Abhishek Singh, son of Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, is an MP.  Dushyant Singh, son of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, is an MP from the state.

 

Yashodhara Raje, sister of Vasundhara Raje, is a minister in Madhya Pradesh; their mother Vijayaraje Scindia was an MP from Madhya Pradesh, and among the founder members of the BJP.

 

Anurag Thakur is a BJP MP from Himachal Pradesh and son of former state chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

 

Caste issues dominate Indian politics

 

There were violent protests and conflict in Maharashtra, especially in Pune and Mumbai, during the first week of January 2018, among the scheduled castes and the upper caste Marathas over the two-century old battle of Bhima Koregaon near Pune.

 

There have been incidents of atrocities against SCs and STs over cow-related violence. About 14% victims of cow-related hate crimes are dalits and tribals, according to the IndiaSpend database that records such crime. The incidents against dalits and tribals took place after 2014, the database show.

 

As many as 119,872 and 19,671 crimes against SCs and STs were reported over the last three years, respectively, according to National Crime Records Bureau data.

 

Crimes Against SCs/STs, 2014-16
Crime Head 2014 2015 2016
Crimes Against Scheduled Castes 40,401 38,670 40,801
Crimes Against Scheduled Tribes 6,827 6,276 6,568

Source: National Crime Records Bureau: Chapters on crime against SCs, STs

 

Correction: The second paragraph in an earlier version of the story erroneously said that three claims were true and one was unclear. We regret the error.