February 13, 2022

The Week in Parliament

PRESIDENT Ramnath Kovind kick-started the budget session of parliament with an address to both houses following which the Union Budget 2022-23 was presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The budget has quashed people’s expectations during the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic. Much awaited measures to strengthen the public sector, generate employment and control inflation have been neglected in the budget giving a clear indication that it is aimed to benefit only the rich.  

The amendments submitted on motion of thanks to President Ramnath Kovind’s address by the members of parliament from CPI(M) on key issues including Pegasus and the government’s failure in dealing with the Covid -19 situation have been undemocratically and unethically disallowed by the secretariat of Rajya Sabha. It has given an impression that the upper house deliberately excluded the amendments that could expose the Modi government.

CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, opposing the motion of thanks on the president’s address questioned as to why the farmers of the country had to sit for one year and only then the farm laws were repealed, surprisingly on Mann ki Baat without even a discussion in the cabinet. He questioned the undemocratic fashion in which the decision was taken and asked as to why the prime minister, on his own had decided to repeal the Acts, which were passed by both the houses, without having a proper discussion in the house.

Bhattacharya asked why there was no mention of the Covid situation or about the suffering of 33 crore people who have newly gone below the poverty line due to the economic crisis caused by Covid-19.  He said that the government’s claim to have fed 80 crores of people through community kitchens is false and that the students and youth have set an example by feeding cooked food during this crisis.

He pointed out that the president’s address doesn’t reflect on international reports saying that inequality in India has widened much during the Covid period and more than 50 per cent of the world's poor people belong to India. He questioned the government’s lack of a solution to the 80 per cent of the Indian households that have suffered income loss during the period. 

He said that the government, to ensure that people do not raise voice of protest, is taking recourse to absolute oppressive measures and is trying to destroy the Indian federal structure. He condemned the prime minister for creating communal hatred among people during his visit to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. He reminded the PM that it is the responsibility of the State and the government to ensure complete freedom, free from any fear, to the minority community. He also said that while we welcome the installing of the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at the India Gate, one should also remember  that the government does not welcome the philosophy of Bose who preached and practised that the minorities in the country should be respected and be given equal representation.

In Lok Sabha, CPI(M) MP Ariff from Kerala opposed the motion of thanks on the president’s address and said that the president was praising his clue-less government instead of showing them the right path to move ahead in this troubling time. A major part of his speech was focused on the achievements of the Kerala government in tackling the Covid-19 crisis. 

He said that various countries have allotted fiscal stimulus and a good share of their GDP to tackle the Covid crises, and pointed out that India’s score is the lowest. ( Argentina –12 per cent; Australia –19.97 per cent; Brazil –12 per cent; Canada –19.7 per cent; China – 4.7 per cent; European Union –11.27 per cent; France –12.06 per cent; Germany –34.81 per cent; and India –3.5 per cent.) 

He lamented that the government has not bothered to enquire about the plight of families of migrant labourers who lost their lives on their way to their native places barefoot and that it does not have any data regarding the NRIs who lost their lives and livelihood due to the pandemic. He also reminded that many people in the country did not even receive a decent burial during the Covid time and many dead bodies were seen floating in the holy Ganga.

Ariff also reminded the house that it is the Supreme Court that needs to be lauded for the Covid vaccination programme in the country and without its intervention, the government was not willing to administer free vaccination for all. He also said that the Covid vaccination certificate should have the picture of Supreme Court on it and not the PM’s.

He said that even after one and a half years, no one knows how much of the Rs 20 lakh crore assistance under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan actually reached the people and how it helped the common people. “Every time people face a crisis, the prime minister will appear before them with a new slogan and people look forward that they would get something to cheer off. Who became atmanirbhar (self-sufficient)? It was not the ordinary people of this country but the corporates like Ambanis and Adanis,” he said. 

Talking about the Pegasus scandal, Ariff said that even if a fraction of what has been revealed by the New York Times a few days ago is believable, it turns out that this government was deliberately misleading this house by repeatedly denying that it has nothing to do with Pegasus. He also said that the people of this country expected that the president would announce some solace for the brave farmers for their year-long fight against the pro-corporate policies of this country; but rather, not even once the president acknowledged the courage shown by the lakhs of farmers of our country to lead such a long and victorious struggle ever since we got our Independence.  

“This government has not shown the courtesy even now to accept that at least a few hundred farmers lost their precious lives during their struggle and it is the responsibility of the country to help the families of those brave martyrs who sacrificed their lives for their rights,” he said. 

The Global Hunger Index 2021 and World Inequality Report 2022 have exposed the claims of this government and its ground realities. “While we stand at 101st position among 116 countries in terms of hunger, India is one of the most unequal countries in the world. The people of this country expected the president to at least remind the government of these realities so as to take affirmative actions to correct them. Instead, what they heard was praise of the BJP Government. In fact, the president was making an attempt to hide the failures of this government,” he concluded.


Kerala MP Elamaram Kareem requested the government of India to approve the semi-high speed rail corridor from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod called the SilverLine. This double lane rail will connect both ends of Kerala within four hours. The present duration of transport is 10-12 hours. Trains can run with a maximum operational speed of 200 km per hour by carrying around 80,000 passengers per day. The feasibility study of the project was conducted in 2019 and the Railway Board had issued in-principle approval for the project on 17th December 17, 2019. A detailed project report of the SilverLine was submitted to the ministry of railways in June, 2019. He reminded that preparatory work for land acquisition is going on.  SilverLine is a green transportation project. It will reduce more than 2.8 lakh tons of carbon-dioxide per day. It will create more than 50,000 direct and indirect employment during the construction phase and 11,000 direct and indirect employment during the operational phase, he said.

Kareem Moves Private Member’s Bill to Repeal Labour Codes



CPI (M) floor leader in Rajya Sabha Elamaram Kareem has introduced a private member bill in the upper house on February 4, to repeal the four labour codes. Titled as the Labour Codes (Repeal) Bill, it seeks to repeal the Code on Wages, Industrial Relations Code, Code on Social Security and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code.

Kareem said widespread protests against these codes are going on in India. “The provisions of the labour codes take away most of the statutory protections for workers and they dilute workers’ social security and welfare schemes. Trade unions across the country are in a united struggle against this. Labour codes, which eliminate all possibility of collective bargaining by workers, are designed solely to protect the interests of employers and corporates. The duty of the government is to strengthen the existing labour laws and make them more pro-labour. The aim of my Bill is to strengthen the nationwide agitation against the labour codes,” he said.

Kareem said in his Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill that the Code on Wages incorporates provisions of certain Acts selectively to the sole advantage of the employers.

“Minimum wages can be an effective tool for addressing poverty and inequality. In India there are a number of issues and concerns with regard to the setting and implementation of minimum wages. However, well tested mechanism/ formula that have been evolved over years, which also got consensus of all stakeholders, could be put in place to address these concerns and ensure that minimum wages have a substantial and beneficial impact on subsistence wage and low-paid workers,’ he added.

The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019, which replaces 13 labour laws, did not stipulate even the basic humane working condition of eight hours work in a day, and left it to be decided by the appropriate governments. The concepts like daily working hours, weekly working hours, period of work, intervals for rest, overtime duty and spread-over-hours which are well-defined in the Factories Act, 1948 and in all the relevant Acts, are sought to be removed by this Code. The Code will make already distressed condition of contract workers who represent almost half of the productive workforce, miserable akin to slavery, Kareem noted.


The Industrial Relations Code, he said, will lead to the “hire and fire” regime at the will of employers. “Formation of trade unions will become more difficult and virtually impossible through imposition of numerous restrictive conditionalities stipulated in this code. It intends to make the right to collective trade union actions including right to strike virtually banned through number of conditionalities,” he added.

Kareem said in the name of extending social security to unorganised sector workers, the Social Securities Code further dilutes and curb whatever social security benefits being available to a section of workers of the organised sector. “It gives relief to the employers in respect of their obligation towards social security contribution for the workers employed by them,” he added.