THE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT
CPI(M) Parliamentary Office
IN the concluding week of the monsoon session, there was a special discussion to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement in both the houses. In the Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury said this was a very solemn occasion to recollect not only the history but also the purpose and what was it that made it a successful movement. Highlighting the role of the Communists in the freedom struggle, he said in the Cellular Jail today, eighty per cent of the names that are written there, are all Communists from Bengal or the undivided Punjab. The first time a complete independence slogan, a resolution that was moved was in the Ahmedabad Session of the AICC in 1921. It was moved on behalf of the Communist Party of India. A Maulana and a Swami moved the resolution on behalf of the Communist Party of India asking for complete Independence! But finally, in the AICC Session of 1929, ‘Purna Swaraj’ slogan was given. We achieved Independence because of our unity. Today, we are paying homage to all those who created that history and made India independent, for which all of us are proud. So, it is that combined history. In 1947, we became independent. We are all proud. We have inherited that Indian nationalism. In those five years (from 1942 to 1947), we also saw the Partition of India. We saw the communal polarisation in those five years that led to this unfortunate Partition. A country named Pakistan came into existence and India became a secular democratic republic. The economic policies that are increasing unemployment, that are increasing poverty, that are increasing the divide between the rich and the poor, that are creating these two Indians, should be stopped. We are creating two Indians, one for the poor and one for the rich. If there is anything that must quit India today on its 75th Anniversary, it is neo-liberal economic policies. These are impoverishing the mass of my people, communalism that is dividing my country and it is disuniting our people in the struggle to create a better India. The thinking which they are carrying to go back into the past, we need to shun that. Without boycotting it, we cannot move into the brightness of the future. The movement forward should be for strengthening the secular democratic republic of India. Let us observe Quit India by saying, quit neo-liberal reforms, quit communalism.
In the Lok Sabha, P Karunakaran said we got freedom not because of struggle of one day or one year, but it was due to the long glorious struggles that the nation had fought. Indian National Congress has its own contribution. Many of the Left Party Leaders have also participated in the struggle in the State and at the national level. If we analyze with an independent view, then we could see a very inspiring aspect of the freedom struggle, which is one that leads to the mainstream of freedom struggle. We can proudly say that present Left Party leaders were in jail years together just because they participated in the freedom struggle of India. The first opposition leader of this house, A K Gopalan, spent years together in various jails in Kerala. Many luminaries in the Treasury Benches and also in the Opposite side were in jail during our freedom struggle. Our freedom struggle is the struggle of the Indian people under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. On the 75th year of Quit India Movement and 70th years of our independence, it is the time to analyse our merits and defects. This is the time for us to take strong steps to protect constitutional rights. The most important feature of the Quit India Movement was the absence of religious and communal division. The national unity can be achieved through this tolerance and mutual understanding with various societies. Now we are losing such an atmosphere.
This is the last session of Sitaram Yechury in the Rajya Sabha. During their farewell speech, leaders of almost all the parties mentioned his contribution in the house as remarkable. Special mention was made about the Motion of Impeachment against a high court judge. Speaking on this, Yechury said we can strengthen our country by strengthening the bonds of commonality that run through our diversity. We have the potential of making India a leader of knowledge-society in the world by providing our youth education, health and jobs. Let us build a better India to create a better society in the future.
The Rajya Sabha bid farewell to the outgoing vice-president and the chairman of Rajya Sabha, Hamid Ansari. On August 11, the last sitting of the monsoon session, the Rajya Sabha felicitated vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu who will be the Rajya Sabha chairman.
The Rajya Sabha passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017. Speaking on this, Tapan Kumar Sen said the “loan defaulters” have been given various respectable names such as 'non-performing assets', 'stressed assets' or, for that matter, 'non-cooperative borrowers’. There is no reason to give respectable names to those who are pilfering banks' money in the name of investment. Firstly, before passing this bill, it is the duty of government to clarify the apprehensions about privatization of banks. The government has already made a public statement that banks should go in for a 'haircut' to address the NPAs, while loans of Rs 3 lakh crore have already been written off. Then, it brought another bill, called the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, which is being conceived with sweeping arbitrary powers to a resolution board constituted under this bill to liquidate banks, which are under loss! In this background, how this action is going to be effective needs be seen. Secondly, the government says that 80 per cent of NPAs are due from just 50 companies. These 50 companies cannot be straightened. The sovereign government of India is having sovereign powers, but it cannot take an appropriate action against 50 companies. Privatisation cannot be a solution. Besides the banking system, many other public sector companies are being targeted for privatisation. None of the public sector companies has made defaults with regard to debt servicing. But, the government is targeting them for wholesale privatisation. Empower the banks is a welcome step. The RBI is a regulator. It is not service providers. The government must direct and the banks should be directly empowered to invoke the insolvency and bankruptcy code. And, if they don’t invoke, their boards can be held accountable. A quick recovery is possible only through this process.
The Lok Sabha passed the State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill, 2017. Terming the bill, as anti-people and anti-farmers, P K Sreemathi Teacher said that it was against the parents of several lakh students. Without any consultation and without any consideration, the government decided to merge the State of Bank of Travancore with the State Bank of India. But, what is the result after the merger? In the past, approvals were very much delayed. This is pushing many customers to private banks or private financers. This bill is not only anti-people but also anti-employees and anti-officers. Pension benefit was denied to the employees of five associate banks merged in 2017. This year's promotion exercise has clearly indicated that there is no scope of promotion for erstwhile association bank employees. This has pushed many associate banks employees in a state of depression and dissatisfaction. While opposing the bill, Joice George said the amalgamation of all the banks has been done by issuing various orders. This is an infringement on the rights of the entire House. After the merger, branches in rural as well as unbanked areas are being shut. For example, in Kerala, the branches of the State Bank of Travancore have been closed. The second aspect is service charge. For increasing profitability, the banks are imposing more service charges. The other aspect is about lending to the primary sectors, especially the agriculture sector. The banks are not providing loans to the farmers.
The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha. This bill is to provide for the resolution of certain categories of financial service providers in distress; the deposit insurance to consumers of certain categories of financial services; designation of systemically important financial institutions; and establishment of a Resolution Corporation for protection of customer of specified service providers and of public funds for ensuring the stability and resilience of the financial system and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It was referred to a Joint Committee of both the Houses, consisting of 30 members -- 20 from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha. P Karunakaran of the CPI(M) is a member of the committee.
The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, as passed by the Lok Sabha, was referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha, consisting of 24 members. C P Narayanan of the CPI(M) is a member of the committee.
The Monsoon Session came to an end on August 11.