From the Delhi Police's action against protesting students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) over a hostel fee hike, Delhi pollution, withdrawal of SPG protection to the Gandhis and the home ministry's data on stone-pelting in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, the second day of the Winter Session of Parliament on Tuesday was marked by lengthy discussions.
For the second consecutive day, most of the sharp words exchanged were in the Lok Sabha, where the Congress and DMK staged a walkout over withdrawal of SPG cover for the Gandhis. On Monday, Congress MPs had shouted slogans demanding that the government stop attacking the Opposition as well as foisting false cases.
Opposition members in Lok Sabha described as "suppression of voice" the alleged baton-charge by police on JNU students demanding total rollback of hostel fee hike.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Saugata Roy of TMC, TN Prathapan of Congress and Danish Ali of BSP accused the government of using force to suppress the voice of students.
Ruckus over withdrawal of SPG protection to the Gandhis
More than 20 members from the Congress and the National Conference trooped into the Well of the House during the Question Hour even as Speaker Om Birla asked them repeatedly to go back to their seats.
Congress members raised the issue of withdrawal of SPG security cover for party president Sonia Gandhi, former party president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The members were heard shouting slogans such as 'please stop revenge politics', 'end dictatorship' and 'we want justice'.
Birla told agitating members that they were not setting a good precedent by protesting in the Well.
Members from the DMK were standing at their seats and on the aisle as they wanted to raise some issues but could not be heard in the din.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, "They (Gandhis) are not ordinary protectees. What happened suddenly due to which their SPG was removed? Why was there a need for the withdrawal?"
He added that from 1991-2019, the NDA came to power twice but their SPG cover was never removed earlier.
However, as it happened, neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi were in the Lok Sabha when their security cover was the topic of discussion. While Sonia later came to the Lok Sabha, Rahul is still said to be abroad for 'vipassana.' According to News18, he is expected to be back on Wednesday.
In fact, Rahul's absence was noted by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who said he had wanted to give a chance to the former Congress president during Question Hour.
"His (Rahul Gandhi's) question was listed for the Question Hour and I wanted to give him a chance had he been present," Birla remarked when K Suresh got up to speak during Zero Hour from Gandhi's seat.
As per the Lok Sabha schedule, question number 28 was listed against the name of Gandhi. The question pertained to Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana for Kerala.
War of words over Delhi pollution
BJP members from Delhi launched a scathing attack on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the Lok Sabha over pollution in the city, saying he has not done anything to curb air pollution and is instead blaming farmers of neighbouring states for it.
Participating in a discussion on air pollution and climate change, Parvesh Verma, who represents West Delhi, slammed the AAP government in Delhi for blaming stubble burning for pollution in the National Capital Region and ignoring major pollutants, including vehicles and dust.
Verma blamed Kejriwal for failing to curb pollution but was asked by the Chair not to name the Delhi chief minister. He claimed Rs 600 crore was spent by the Delhi government on advertisements but little was done to curb pollution. He alleged that by blaming villagers for pollution, Kejriwal was only widening the urban-rural divide.
On the other hand, the Congress' Manish Tewari made an appeal to discuss pollution outside the purview of party politics. "Every year, the air in Delhi gets extremely polluted. In fact, the citizens are presently breathing poisonous toxins instead of air. This issue should be seen outside the prism of party politics," he said.
Tewari cited the example of Beijing and said, "Some years ago, Beijing had seen high levels of pollution...However, by the end of 2017, PM2.5 levels in Beijing fell by 35 percent. Most of this happened due to to the use of cleaner fuels and industrial restructuring."
However, the MP who possibly made the most dramatic statements on air pollution was the TMC's Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, who wore a mask for a part of her speech. She said in her speech, "Climate change is affecting the whole planet, and it is a very serious matter. We may be staring at the possibility of mass extinction."
The TMC MP added, "When we have a 'Swachh Bharat mission', can't we have a 'Swachh hawa mission?"
765 arrested for stone pelting in Jammu and Kashmir since abrogation of Article 370: MHA tells Lok Sabha
The Home Ministry said security forces had arrested 765 people in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution for their alleged involvement in stone-pelting incidents and that multi-pronged policies were adopted to check the menace.
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy also said there was a decline in the incidents of stone-pelting since 5 August, when the Centre announced abrogation of the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.
"From 5 August, 2019 to 15 November, 2019, 765 people have been arrested in 190 cases registered relating to stone pelting/law and order. From 1 January, 2019 to 4 August, 2019, 361 such cases were registered," the minister said, replying to a written question in the Lok Sabha.
Reddy said the government had adopted multi-pronged policies to check the stone-pelting menace and had succeeded in curbing it to the extent that a large number of troublemakers, instigators and mob mobilisers were identified and various preventive measures taken against them, including detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and preventive arrests.
"Investigation has revealed that various separatist organisations and activists, which are part of the Hurriyat, have been behind the incidents of stonepelting in the Kashmir valley. The NIA has chargesheeted 18 persons in terror-funding cases so far," he said.
Rajya Sabha passes Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill
Meanwhile, in the Rajya Sabha, the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill was passed. The Bill amends the provision to have the Congress chief as a trustee of the Jallianwala Bagh Trust. It adds that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party will be the trustee.
Earlier, stressing that there should be no politics over martyrs, Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha urged the government to show "magnanimity" by allowing the Congress President to continue as a permanent member of the trust that runs the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial.
The opposition members were participating in a discussion on the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel moved the motion for further consideration and passing of the Bill.
Patel had moved the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on August 7 after the Lok Sabha passed it on August 2 by a voice vote amid a Congress walkout.
Participating in the debate, Pratap Singh Bajwa of the Congress said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the historic 250th session of the Upper House wanted opposition to show large-heartedness.
It was time that the government showed "magnanimity" and recognised the Congress party's contribution to the freedom struggle, he said.
"There is no need to rewrite history," Bajwa said, adding that the relationship between Jallianwala Bagh and Congress party was that of "nail and flesh" which cannot be separated from each other.
Patel urged the House to pass the Bill saying the amendments were small including induction of Leader of the Opposition or leader of the biggest political party in the Trust and termination of any member of the Governing Body of the Trust before the five-year tenure.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 19, 2019 21:22:44 IST