February 19, 2023

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

THE budget session of parliament began on January 31 with an address of President Droupadi Murmu to a joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. On February 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the union budget for 2023-24.  Thereafter, both the houses began the debate on the motion of thanks on the president’s address. The treasury benches praised the welfare schemes of the government while the opposition raised the Adani issue and pressed for a joint parliamentary committee probe into it. The first leg of the budget session ended with both the houses being adjourned till March 13 amid protests by the opposition over the Adani issue. CPI(M) MPs submitted many crucial amendments on the motion of thanks on the president address in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Here is Part-I of the CPI(M) members’ submissions in parliament. Part-II will follow next week.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha on the motion of thanks on the president’s address, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya said, “I offer my thanks to the president of India but I really cannot offer any thanks or give any credence to the speech which she has made. If we go through the entire speech and the lines in between, we find this is not a speech which reflects the Indian constitutional ethos or constitutional morality. It really reflects the idea of Hinduism, it reflects the basic idea of BJP which wants to really establish a Hindu Rashtra, following the RSS guideline, without implementing the Indian constitutional goal. This is based on misrepresentation of ideas and facts. It is said that the Rajpath is now the Kartavya Path because Rajpath is a symbol of colonialism. I don’t know where they get this fact from. During the colonial period, it was Kingsway and Queensway. That had been changed to Janpath and Rajpath. 'Raj' is not a colonial word. 'Raj' is a concept which is available in Indian cultural history. Now, the ruling party wants to take a false credit and tries to pose it as anti-colonial, though its history to fight the colonial government is very poor. The president’s speech has references to many scholars. Being a country of multicultural heritage, we have the heritage of different ideas, but this speech only contains the ideas of Hindu leaders, Hindu seers. What does the government aim to communicate? Does it want to keep the country united on the constitutional principle? The intention is to divide the country on religious lines which is the practice, unfortunately, now being followed by the government.

“Here is a false claim. I don’t know who had advised the president to make this statement on triple talaq. The abolition of triple talaq was the contribution of the Supreme Court, which had declared it unconstitutional. The government doesn’t get any credit for this. They were bound to make a law after the verdict of the Supreme Court. The president’s speech states: ‘The government has the credit from abrogation of Article 370 to triple talaq.’ Why do you want to communicate this false information to the country through the president of India? Now you say that we have poverty eradication. Kindly see the constitution which wants the scientific temper. Here, you are really trying to communicate the most unauthentic, unscientific idea. Poverty does not bring illness. It says, “poverty is illness!” For instance, it says, “the major cause of poverty is illness.” Is that right? Is it not illness because of poverty? You want to put the cart before the horse! You don’t want to eradicate poverty but you want to eradicate illness. This is a wrong concept by which you can neither eradicate poverty nor take care of illness. In the name of taking care of illness, you want to take credit for the Ayushman Bharat scheme. What has the Ayushman Bharat done? You have claimed that 80 crore people have to be fed with five kg of rice. Does it reflect the confidence in the country’s economy? Or, does it reflect your weakness? You want to take credit out of nothing. The President, unfortunately, was made to read the statement.

“The government claims that our heritage connects to our roots with projects like Ayodhya Dham and so many Dhams. But you don’t mention that Joshimath is sinking because of your unwise decision to construct roads for the purpose of pilgrimage and make them picnic spots. This sinking of Joshimath is another reflection of your destroying the eco-balance of the country. This eco-balance of the country has to be maintained while you are making constructions, not for the purpose of Hindu pilgrimage. Again, you say that it is a slave mentality. If the Rajpath is a slave mentality, then what would be your discharge of duty to the people of the country? You have to discharge the Raj Dharma which you don’t do. Kartavya Path shows what you have decided to do. That is reflected through speeches like Hindu nationalism. Against that, we have been fighting and we are inviting all the people to get together. The strength of the government lies in its power to face the opposition. If you are an honest government, you should not get scared of any investigation. Now the entire House is demanding a JPC to have an investigation into the affairs of a particular corporate house. Why do you get scared of it? Will the Chair direct the treasury benches that if it is honest, it should go in for a JPC? Let there be an investigation and let the government face it. Without this, the president’s address would take us to nowhere. 

Speaking in Rajya Sabha on the motion of thanks on the president’s address, A M Ariff said the BJP government has downgraded the president’s address as an opportunity to kickstart its election campaign from the Central Hall for the upcoming election to Lok Sabha and state assemblies in complete disregard to the sentiments of the common people of this country. “Through the whole address, we all heard the president taking pride in the achievements of her government, counting them one by one. To start with, the president was seen portraying India’s G20 presidency as a political victory of the BJP government. Last year, it was Indonesia and next year, it will be some other country heading the G20 Summit. How come a leadership role which is entrusted to India on rotation basis, becomes an achievement of the BJP government? Truly, no party other than the BJP would be so cunning and cheap to portray this as its political gain. By depicting the lotus, the symbol of the BJP, and mixing the colour of the party flag in the logo of India’s G20 presidency, this government has made mockery of India in front of the world. I wish BJP MP Chandra Prakash Joshi, who had moved this motion of thanks, would appraise the president that India stands at 103rd position in the Poverty Index of UN out of 121 countries in 2022. The president spoke only of the Innovation Index of India coming from 80th rank to 40th rank. As concluded by the government’s own Economic Survey, and reports of the Reserve Bank of India and agencies like Oxfam International, India is home to 26 crore poor people. These people would have expected that their president would, at least, acknowledge their problems and would ask for urgent measures. The president praised her government for administering 220 crore vaccine doses within two years. But what is the reality? I would like to remind the mover of this motion that this government had restricted the free doses of COVID-19 vaccines only to people above 45 years of age, and only because of the intervention of the Supreme Court, it was made free for all citizens. Even then, instead of showing the picture of the Supreme Court, all the vaccine certificates have the picture of the prime minister. I wonder whether any other leader in the world has resorted to such cheap publicity measures. The prime minister removed the photo of Mahatma Gandhi from the calendar of Khadi Board and inserted his own picture spinning yarns on a charkha two years back. This shows that the prime minister would go to any extreme to get cheap publicity and get political mileage out of it.

The president informed us through her speech that her government would build a new nation by 2047 on the foundations of our glorious past. We saw this government declaring the Mughal Garden as Amrit Udyan with an aim to erase the memories of the past. Similarly, the name of Rajpath was changed to Kartavya Path. So, in reality, instead of preserving our past, this government is simply destroying all our memories. The President said, “…to become self-reliant and able to fulfil humanitarian obligations.” But as of now, the humanitarian obligation has been shown towards just two individuals and their families by this government, and everyone knows that it is towards Adani and Ambani families. Day by day, the unholy nexus between the BJP government and the Adani Group is getting exposed. The common people of this country have invested their earnings worth millions of rupees in institutions like SBI and LIC hoping that their investments would be safe there. But this government has betrayed their hopes by allowing SBI and LIC to gamble with the public money held by them in the shares of Adani Group as part of this unholy nexus. But who authorised LIC to invest more than Rs 30,000 crore in the shares of Adani Group? It has also come out that SBI has given loans of Rs 27,000 crore to the Adani Group. Before the Modi government came to power in Gujarat, no one had even heard of Adani in the Indian corporate sector. On getting power, they became “Bhai-Bhai” and have grown together with their unholy nexus. What has now come out is only the tip of an iceberg. I challenge this government to order for a JPC probe supervised by the Supreme Court so that we all would be able to know the extent of this public loot. I would like to know whether this government is aware that India's rank in the Happiness Index is 139 out of 149 countries. What is the reason for that? It is because of the policies of this government aimed at dividing this country on the basis of religion and destroying the harmony among innocent people. In her address, the President has lauded the steps taken by this government in abrogating Article 370 and triple talaq. That part might have been included purposefully in her speech to appease the RSS and its agenda. But then, she should not have used the word ‘decisive government’. Instead, the appropriate word for this government is ‘divisive government’.

The president was seen boasting about the political stability in India amidst a crisis across the world. For that, we are indebted to our visionary ancestors and constitutional framers who envisaged India as a secular State instead of a religious State. I request this government to imbibe lessons from the plight of Pakistan and Afghanistan who are paying the price of religious State. I wish to remind this government that it is their responsibility to preserve the public institutions nurtured by our ancestors without writing off the assets to Adanis and Ambanis and keep intact India as a secular State. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP government created a new PM CARES Fund and routed the CSR funds of all public sector companies in India and outside countries including the Chinese companies in the name of helping the people. No one knows how much amount has come as donations and what has been spent out of it for the people. The Prime Minister's Office is arguing that it is not public money and, hence, there is no audit required of it by the CAG. All this shows lack of transparency in the functioning of this government which is promoting favouritism and nepotism on the one hand and claiming on the other hand that it is against corruption. When this government has whitewashed all the scams, hiding the truth from the common public, international organisations exposed the reality. When BBC exposed the truth behind Gujarat riots, Hindenburg exposed Adani’s fraud, and French media exposed the Rafale deals, they were portrayed as anti-Indian and anti-nationals. The government cannot always escape by using the anti-national card.