THE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT
CPI(M) Parliamentary Office
ON February 29, the budget for 2016-17 was presented in Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, after which the House was adjourned. In Rajya Sabha, the budget and fiscal policy statements were laid subsequently and then the House was adjourned.
The next day, a notice was given by Md. Salim in Lok Sabha seeking permission to bring a breach of privilege motion against HRD Minister Smriti Irani but it was not admitted. There was uproar in both the Houses and no business was done because of AIADMK protest demanding action against former Home Minister P Chidambaram over reports about his son's assets.
Later, CPI(M) and other opposition MPs asked Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to let them speak on the notice for privilege motion against Irani who used the floor of the House to misled the nation. Having been rejected by the Speaker, the MPs protested.
Lok Sabha had a short-duration discussion on the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal to which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley replied, saying the government is committed to absolute probity.
The House also continued debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address. Speaking on this, Md. Salim said that last year, there was mention of some vision in the President's address but there is no direction this time. Only certain works of the government have been enumerated this year. We cannot turn a blind eye to the reality but the government wants to ignore it. The youth are outraged and the government is slapping sedition charge on them. The government is not feeling the nerve of the youth. There was no need to blow the JNU issue out of proportion. It was done in a well-considered manner. The government wants to turn a blind eye to the reality by raising slogans of nationalism and patriotism. If the government nurtures the feeling of mixing religion with politics, the federal structure and parliamentary democracy will be shaken. Last year, there was a mention of 'maximum governance and minimum government' in the Presidential address. Will the sacrifice of our army personnel be encashed only to blame the opposition by raising slogans of patriotism and nationalism? When they were staging dharna at Jantar Mantar for 'one rank, one pension', the same Delhi Police was used to charge lathi on them on the midnight of August 15. Youths in the country are facing unemployment. Farmers and labourers are in distress. The government has failed to give them any direction. The government said that there will be zero tolerance on corruption but action is not taken in such cases for political convenience. The government has launched a good programme of LED blub distribution but the figures are fictitious. I am talking about human development. They are encouraging intolerance in the country.
After the reply given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Motion of Thanks to President's address in Lok Sabha, the amendments were moved. CPI(M) MPs demanded to move as many as 69 amendments particularly the amendment which was given on issues regarding JNU, Hyderabad Central University and IIT-Madras. The amendment was put and rejected.
In Rajya Sabha, K N Balagopal, while speaking on calling attention to inflammatory speeches made by a minister in the Union Government and elected representatives violating the Constitution and oath of office, said the Minister states the newsreports on his speech were distorted and incorrect. Whether the government or the minister is ready to sue the newspaper which has reported it? The government can sue the newspaper if it is a distorted report. This is again tantamount to breach of privilege. We have discussed about the JNU case, the case of anti-national provocations. But, if the government is responsible, it is not necessary to go after the students of universities, installing cameras and surveillance system everywhere. It is easy protecting the unity or the country if the Home minister gives directions to the police forces in the country to do some surveillance on ministers and MPs. If they are ready to stop these hate speeches, then the country will be safe. The man who was behind the Muzaffarnagar incident was elected later and elevated as a minister. So this is the class, the model which the government/party is giving to the people. Whether any case have been filed against any of the leaders, ministers or activists of the BJP against this kind of statements in the last one year. This is not only about BJP, in West Bengal, one MP spoke publicly "we will send our people to rape CPM people". These kinds of statements are coming from ruling parties in state and at the Centre.
In Rajya Sabha, Tapan Sen, while speaking on taxing EPF withdrawal, said I represent one of the important constituent of stakeholders and I have personally attended all the stakeholders' meeting. At no point, did the stakeholders ever agree to taxing withdrawal from the provident fund because it is not an income. It is an apportionment of the income earned for which they have already paid tax. So please don't point gun at the stakeholder.
CPI(M) Leader Sitaram Yechury wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari seeking intervention to protect his "rights and privileges" as a member of the House for being inundated with phone calls and messages full of profanity, obscenity and threats to his life on the basis of allegations and calumny spread against him on the floor of the House by the HRD Minister.
In Lok Sabha, Md. Badaruddoza Khan, while speaking on Railway Budget, said that no doubt our Railway Minister is dynamic but his hands and feet are tied. Only his brain is free to think. He is looking at some good hopes and anticipations of enhancing 50 per cent more electrification, commissioning seven kilometres a day of broad gauge line, two locomotive factories, 17,000 bio-toilets and three new freight corridors etc. but he must think about the ground reality of such dreams within the Railway Budget. There was a revenue shortfall of nine per cent. This year, the minister hopes the operating ratio would be 92.5 per cent while it was 90 per cent last year. A higher operating ratio indicates a lower surplus. From where will the money come? The Railway Minister announced PPP and FDI in Indian Railways, but till date we do not know how much revenue has been collected from this sector. It is also remarkable that the last few years gross budgetary support from the Union Budget has remained same there is no increase. Where is the money for safety and expansion of Railways? Already there are some reports of experts committees but the government has not implemented them properly. Further, the minister has set up some more committees/organisations and seven missions for the future to divert the opinion of the common people. He urged the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to provide duty free diesel to the Railways.
Secondly, the Railway is not running on profit but still have to pay dividend to the government. So the government must remit the dividend paid to the government and it can be spent for the development of railway sector.
On February 4, due to sudden demise of former Speaker P A Sangma, Lok Sabha was adjourned in the morning after paying homage and Rajya Saha was adjourned in the afternoon.