The Parliament transacted considerable business on the first day of Monsoon Session with minimal interruptions, and both Houses debating several issues, while also setting out time for legislative business. However, the talking point of the day was an Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government, the first to be admitted since the BJP-led dispensation came to power four years ago. Here is a breakdown on highlights of the day from both Houses.
Lok Sabha to take up Motion of No-Confidence for debate on Friday
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan admitted the notices for the motion of no-confidence, saying she had received notices from Opposition MPs expressing lack of confidence in the Union Council of Ministers, and that she was duty-bound to put it before the House.
Interestingly, Mahajan had disallowed a similar move in the last Budget Session saying that she was unable to count whether enough number of MPs supported the move, due to the continued uproar by TDP, TRS and some other parties.
Mahajan announced that "the House will take up the debate (on the motion) on Friday, 20th July. More than 50 members are supporting the motion, so the leave is granted (to bring in no-confidence motion)," Mahajan said while accepting the notice.
She also said there will be no Question Hour on that day and the House would have no other business, barring the discussion on the no-confidence motion.
There was a brief disagreement on the date of discussion on no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. While Opposition members, including TMC MPs demanded that the motion be taken up for discussion on Monday, Mahajan ruled that the members cannot protest on everything, and finalised Friday as the day the motion will be taken up.
Some disagreeing voices were heard over who was allowed to move the motion as well. Kasineni Srinivas of the TDP, which had quit the ruling NDA coalition in March protesting against the government not giving a special package to Andhra Pradesh, had moved the motion during Zero Hour which was admitted by the Speaker.
But Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that the largest party be allowed to move the motion. But Mahajan said as per rules, the party which raises the motion first gets to move it. As Kharge pressed with the demand that all members who brought in the motion should be allowed to move it, an angry Mahajan said "You go through the record... I have gone according to the rule".
The Opposition parties have brought the motion against the government on several issues like special status to Andhra Pradesh, cow vigilantism, lynchings, atrocities against women and Dalits and alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act.
'Who says we don't have numbers': Sonia Gandhi confident on move, BJP decries Congress' arrogance
The Congress party exuded confidence in mustering the required strength for the success of Opposition's no-confidence motion, despite the numbers indicating otherwise. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi quipped: "Who said the Opposition doesn't have the numbers?" when reporters asked her to comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government is prepared to face the no-confidence motion brought in by several parties. "The entire country has confidence on Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said.
"Congress had shown similar kind of arrogance during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure and they had to face the consequences. Indians have elected Prime Minsiter Modi as their leader and he has their confidence. We are ready to face them," Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
In a House of 535 members, the ruling NDA has 313 members in the Lok Sabha, including 274 (including the Speaker) of BJP, 18 of Shiv Sena, six LJP and four SAD. The Shiv Sena, which is constantly critical of the BJP, has not yet indicated its stand, however, ANI quoted sources as saying that the party will either stay neutral or support the government on the issue.
The stated strength of the Opposition is 222, including 63 of the Congress-led UPA, 37 of AIADMK, 34 of TMC, 20 BJD, 16 TDP and 11 TRS. So far RJD, TDP and JD(S) have come on record to commit to supporting the motion
From mob lynchings to SC/ST act, Parliament discusses key issues
A host of important issues came up for discussion in the Lower House, including mob lynching and the alleged dilution of Prevention of SC/ST Atrocities Act. On the spate of mob violence, BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi that the incidents of mob lynching are a result of economic disparity.
Giving instances of the killing of Bengal migrant worker Manik Roy and an Adivasi youth Madhu in Kerala, Lekhi said these cases of lynchings were on account of economic issues. "It is because of economic disparity," she said.
Speaking during the Zero Hour, Nishikant Dubey (BJP) raised the issue of Missionaries of Charity and alleged that it was operating a racket of illegal conversion and adoption. Dubey said the organisation was "running a syndicate and converting people" into Christianity by alluring them to health and education facilities.
"There should be a CBI inquiry into the adoption racket being run by the Missionaries of Charity. Also, a new law should be brought in to deal with conversions," Dubey said.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor brought in the issue of attack over his office after his Hindu terrorist remark. Blaming right-wing activists for death threats and vandalising his office, Tharoor demanded action against 'anti-national elements' and the intervention of the prime minister.
Tharoor also raised the issue of the attack on Swami Agnivesh on Tuesday in Jharkhand and said it showed that there was no place for dissent. "We cannot and should not stand by hooliganism... the rule of law should prevail," he said. To this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that law and order was a state subject and the hooligans may have been state-sponsored attackers as he sought to distance his party from the attack.
Separately, Dharmendra Yadav (SP) raised the issue of reservations to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs in higher education and demanded government response on the matter. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was present in the House, said no individual or institution intended to dilute the provisions relating to the reservation to SCs/STs/OBCs. Singh said a Special Leave Petition (SLP) is already pending in court and the human resource development Minister will give a detailed response on the issue.
Key legislations today
A bill proposing a ban on unregulated deposits and up to 10-year jail term for perpetrators of ponzi schemes was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018, introduced by Minister of State for Finance Pon Radhakrishnan, provides for punishment for fraudulent default in repayment to depositors and attachment of assets of entities engaged in such activities.
Apart from this, a bill aimed at checking the menace of human trafficking and two other draft legislations were also introduced by the government in the Lok Sabha today. The Trafficking of Persons (prevention, protection and rehabilitation) bill was introduced by the Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi in the House. The anti-human trafficking Bill aims to resolve the massive problem of trafficking. It addresses the issue of trafficking from point of prevention, protection and rehabilitation.
A bill to amend the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) of India Act was also introduced by the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.
The proposed legislation would change the definition of 'major airports' and help the regulator function more efficiently. Minister of State for Law PP Chaudhary introduced a measure to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996.
The Lok Sabha also debated and passed The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017, which sought for regular examination in classes 5 and 8. The original Act stipulated that no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education. The amended Act will now have provisions not only for examination in both these classes but will also extend powers to the state to hold back children if they fail in re-examination — also provisioned in the amended Bill.
The Rajya Sabha, meanwhile, cleared the State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill, 2017 giving the Parliament's nod to the merger of six subsidiary banks with the State Bank of India (SBI).
The bill repeals the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, and State Bank of Hyderabad Act, 1956 besides amending the State Bank of India (SBI) Act, 1955. The State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore were constituted under the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959. The State Bank of Hyderabad and the State Bank of Patiala were wholly owned by the State Bank of India (SBI). The SBI had 90 per cent shareholding in the State Bank of Mysore, 75.07 percent shareholding in the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur and 79.09 percent shareholding in the State Bank of Travancore.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jul 18, 2018 21:18:33 IST