March 06, 2016

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

THE Budget Session of Parliament began on February 23 with President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to a joint session of both the Houses. After the President's address, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha met and made obituary references. Both the Houses were adjourned after laying the President's address on the table of the respective House. CPI(M) MPs have moved as many as 69 amendments to the President's address, highlighting important issues like the situation in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Hyderabad University and IIT-Madras, growing intolerance manifesting in the violence and spread of communal polarisation in the country, recent attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot which raises questions on security aspect, rising incidents of suicide among Dalit students pointing to continuing discrimination, attack on journalists, and failure of the government to curb price rise, check high level corruption and bring back black money stashed abroad.

Lok Sabha took up the discussion regarding situation arising out of recent incidents in institutions of higher education. Participating on the discussion, M B Rajesh said two incidents have shaken the conscience of the entire nation. One is the suicide by a brilliant student, Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad Central University. The second incident is sending of Kanhaiya Kumar, the elected president of JNU students’ union, to jail. Vemula was suspended due to continuous pressure exerted by two Union ministers. Unable to withstand the pressure, he ended his life. Hence, I said this is not a suicide but an institutional murder. Now, they are targeting JNU. In just a single week, there were four instances of morphing of pictures and fabrication of evidence with regard to JNU incident. The first was the so-called tweet by the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader which turned out fake, and the Home Minister was quick to believe it and accuse the students of having terror links. Secondly, there was photo-shopping of a photo of Kanhaiya Kumar with the background of a divided map of India. The National Human Rights Commission told us that a statement was fabricated and the police forced Kanhaiya Kumar to make a statement. Now, you are accusing all students of being “anti-nationals”. You are creating a divide between 'nationals' and 'anti-nationals'.

The opposition including CPI(M) staged a walkout during Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani's reply in Lok Sabha.

In Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury initiated the discussion on situation arising in central institutions of higher education with specific reference to Jawaharlal Nehru and University of Hyderabad.

On February 25, Suresh Prabhu presented his longest Railway Budget speech in Lok Sabha which does not evoke any sense of well-being in the Indian Railways. The people of India were hoping that the budget will address the issue of expanding railway connectivity and take steps to improve the passenger amenities. But, in fact, this budget was disappointing.

On February 29, Finance Minister Arun Jaitely presented the General Budget, 2016-17 in Lok Sabha, which is once again a blatant attack on the poor and the oppressed. This budget was without any vision. This budget favours the rich and will further accentuate the problems of unemployment and inequality.


Legislative Business

In Rajya Sabha, speaking on the motion calling attention to the situation arising out of complete breakdown of law and order in Delhi, K N Balagopal said the lawlessness and the failure of administration is very clear. When we came for the session itself, it was informed that there is no water supply in V P House for the past few days. Is this connected with the Jat agitation? Did the government have any idea about the lapse, the breakage of water, pipes and all that affected the city. The government doesn't have any information. Whether they have got any information about these kinds of alleged meetings anywhere in universities here? Whether the government noticed about the scare in the minds of the parents in the country in sending their children to Delhi University classes? Yes, we are getting some enquiries from the parents. Those who have already got admission in Delhi University and some universities in Delhi wanted to take the students to other campuses. It was heard that the judges are not ready to come to the High Court and the Supreme Court because they are even beaten up, as there is no action from the government side. A sitting MLA-led the attack at Patiala House Courts Complex, he took the lead in attacking the people. Has the government taken any disciplinary action against that MLA? Are you trying to make the campus a Taliban campus?

The Lok Sabha passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill. Speaking on this, Md. Badaruddoza Khan pointed to the historic agreement that was signed December last for exchange of enclaves, which was supported by all. Now we are discussing the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The people who have come should have the right to vote before the forthcoming election in West Bengal after this Bill is passed. If the government wants and empowers the district magistrates, this can be easily done. When voting rights are being conferred, civil rights should also be offered. In my own constituency, there was a place called Charmeghna where people were Indian but the land was in Bangladesh. I had visited the place. There were no facilities, no road, no water, no good schools, nothing. They were just surviving without basic amenities of life. The government has to look after these people. Both central and state governments have to fulfil their responsibilities. The enclaves are all situated in the border areas. The law and order situation become very grim after evening. Indian police is not allowed to enter, army is nowhere. The crops are looted every now and then. The central government must ensure that BSF steps up vigil in these areas. They are Indians, our brothers. Only voting rights will not suffice. They need proper education, safety. They are lagging behind in all aspects. They have no stable source of income. It is difficult to transfer animals and to visit a bereaved family if someone dies on the other side. I request the central and state governments to look into these aspects.

Adding to this, Md. Salim said that in a week’s time the election process will start in Bengal. This amply manifest as to how this government is functioning. The government should have got this Bill passed in the House in December itself. Today, those who are in Union government and those in the state opposed this Bill for political reasons. After this legislation, the people will get the right to vote but they should get all necessary civic amenities also. This needs to be looked into.

Speaking on a Private Member’s Bill on compulsory voting, Jitendra Chaudhury endorsed the spirit of the Bill because every citizen of the country should be a participant in nation building. The more percentage of voters turn out to cast their votes more intense will be their participation in the progress of the country. People should be given the opportunity to participate in the process of planning and process of implementation of every project. The system should be corrected. If the government bring in a piece of legislation for a proportionate representation, muscle and money powers will be eliminated from the Indian voting system. There is corruption everywhere but if this system can be introduced, such things will come to an end. Later the bill was withdrawn.

On February 24, MPs of Left parties and other opposition parties like Janta Dal (United) and RJD staged a protest on the JNU issue at Parliament House. On February 26, Left MPs staged a protest at Parliament House on the issue of crisis in rubber cultivation. (END)