December 14, 2014

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

THE second week of winter session began with an uproar in both the Houses of Parliament. Launching the BJPs campaign in Delhi, union minister of state Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti made a highly offensive statement which aimed at sharpening communal polarisation. Both the Houses of Parliament remained disrupted for two consecutive days. The prime minister came under fire in the parliament and was questioned about his continued absence in the ongoing winter session. The BJP forced the minister to apologise in both the Houses of Parliament and accordingly the minister apologised. In the Upper House, under the leadership of CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, the entire opposition stood together with the demand that either the minister be sacked or she resigns. They also demanded a statement from the prime minister on the issue. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day in the afternoon amid slogan-shouting. With prime minister present in Lok Sabha, opposition members vociferously pressed for a statement from him where the minister too was present. The BJP strongly objected to this demand and the parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said the matter has ended as the minister had already apologised and the prime minister disapproved of her comments. But that did not assuage the protesting MPs of the CPI(M), Congress, TMC who later staged a walkout. With the opposition disruption continuing for the third day on the same issue, the prime minister on December 4 made a statement in the Rajya Sabha and on December 5 in Lok Sabha and told Rajya Sabha that he “strongly disapproved” her comments and also asked members to accept her apology and let the House function but the opposition did not relent. The Lok Sabha continues functioning in the midst of disruption where CPI(M) and other opposition parties boycotted the House. In Rajya Sabha, the opposition brought a proposal to bring a general “motion of censure” condemning “inflammatory speeches’. Nine Opposition parties – Congress, Janta Dal (U), BSP, CPI(M), DMK, CPI and NCP issued a joint statement calling upon the government to reconsider their proposal for a parliamentary resolution. In Lok Sabha, speaking on the natural calamities in various parts of the country with special reference to rains and floods in Jammu and Kashmir, Cyclone Hudhud in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and drought in Maharshtra, PK Sreemathi Teacher pointed out that to some extent, the exploitation of natural resources by man is also a cause for such calamities. She said the package announced by the prime minister is insufficient, and the central government should announce a more comprehensive package. The government officials should visit these places to assess the serious condition and to review the extent of damage, she said. Initiating the discussion in Lok Sabha on the reported dilution of MGNREGS, Sankar Prasad Datta said this scheme brought some relief to the unemployed and the under-employed people of our country. The downtrodden people of our country are getting food and work from this scheme. It provides employment opportunities to people of rural India and thus, increases the purchasing power of the rural poor of our country. He discussed the negative fall-outs of constraining the scheme to 200 districts only. He raised concerns over decrease in fund allocations for Tripura? Rajya Sabha passed the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Bill, 2014. Speaking on this Ritabrata Banerjee said many universities were created without any infrastructure. There has been no provision regarding the reservation policy of SCs/ STs, minorities and OBCs in the board of governors. There is no provision for the students in any forum. In many such institutions, students at times, are subjected to mental and physical torture. But no redressal forum is there for the students in this bill. Amid the disruption, Parliament passed two bills the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill 2013 and the Merchant Shipping (Second) Amendment Bill, 2013. In Lok Sabha, Anti-hijacking Bill and Supplementary Demands for Grants and related appropriation bills are also on priority agenda so also Payments and Settlements Systems (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and Appropriation Acts (Repeal) Bill, 2014. In the Rajya Sabha, several bills were scheduled to be taken up during the second week but could not be done so due to disruptions. They include: The Textiles Undertakings (Nationalisation) Laws (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2014 to replace an Ordinance, The Constitution Scheduled Castes Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2014, The Central Universities Bill, 2014 and The School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014 that have already been passed by the Lok Sabha this session. On December 2, the house mourned the passing away of Comrade Ananda Pathak who passed away on November 28, 2014 at the age of 83.