Budget Session: Farm laws, outcry over Modi's 'andolan-jivi' remark dominate LS; RS bids farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad

Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured both Houses that the Centre is taking every possible step to rescue people and bring back life to normalcy in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand following the destruction caused by the avalanche that occurred on Sunday

FP Staff February 09, 2021 21:52:28 IST
Budget Session: Farm laws, outcry over Modi's 'andolan-jivi' remark dominate LS; RS bids farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets emotional in the Rajya Sabha as Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad is set to retire from the Upper House of Parliament. PTI/screengrab

On the seventh day of the Budget Session of the Parliament, the Lok Sabha continued its debate on the motion thanking the President for his address to the joint sitting of Parliament and the contentious farm laws well beyond midnight with Congres MPs from Punjab stating that they would be moving a private members bill to repeal the laws, while the Rajya Sabha bid an emotional adieu to Congress MP and leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari told reporters earlier today that the Repealing and Amendment Bill 2021 will be moved in the Lower House by a group of party MPs from Punjab, including himself, Preneet Kaur, Jasbir Singh Gill, and Santokh Chaudhary. Tewari said they will seek the support of fellow MPs from other parties who have sympathies for the farmers and support their stand on the new legislation.

In his farewell speech in Rajya Sabha, Azad said that he was among the fortunate people who never went to Pakistan and he felt proud to be an Indian Muslim. “When I read about circumstances in Pakistan, I feel proud to be a Hindustani Muslim,” Azad said.

Click here for the latest updates on Budget Session of Parliament

The Congress leader and three other MPs from Jammu and Kashmir – Nazir Ahmad Laway, Shamsher Singh Manhas, and Mir Mohammad Fayaz will complete their terms in the Rajya Sabha next week.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured both Houses of the Parliament that the Centre is taking every possible step to rescue people and bring normalcy in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand following the destruction caused by the avalanche that occurred on Sunday.

In his statement made in the Rajya Sabha and later in the Lok Sabha today, Shah informed that according to the state government the floods don’t pose a risk to the low-lying areas anymore. He said that the water level is receding in the area.

The government also informed the Lower House in a written reply that the Delhi Police had acted swiftly and in an "impartial and fair manner" while dealing with the 2020 northeast Delhi riots. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy also said that proportionate and appropriate actions were taken by the Delhi Police to control the situation.

Tuesday also saw the Upper House of the Parliament passing the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2021, to regularise unauthorised colonies in Delhi. The bill provides protection to certain forms of unauthorised developments in Delhi from punitive action where adequate measures are yet to be taken.

Proud to be Hindustani Muslim, says Ghulam Nabi Azad

Leaders from across parties bid an emotional farewell to senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on his retirement from the Rajya Sabha.

Azad said he is proud to be a Hindustani Muslim and "lucky" that he did not go to Pakistan as the Congress veteran received accolades from leaders across the political spectrum including Prime Minister Narendra Modi who broke down several times recalling their close association.

In his 28-minute farewell speech in the Upper House of Parliament, Azad, 71, recited several couplets and hoped for the restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir and the return of Kashmiri Pandits back to the Valley.

Azad was among the four members in the Rajya Sabha who were given an emotional farewell by the House.

He and Nazir Ahmed Laway (PDP) are due to retire on 15 February while the terms of Mir Mohammad Fayaz (PDP) and Shamsher Singh Manhas (BJP) will end on 10 February. All are from Jammu and Kashmir.

Attributing his success to Indira Gandhi, Azad said the former prime minister and Sanjay Gandhi gave him opportunities to work under the Congress. He noted the opportunities given to him under the leadership of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, current Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

Azad specially thanked former prime minister Indira Gandhi and late Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi, saying he reached here only because of them.

"I have worked with five presidents and around four or five prime ministers as a member of their cabinets. I also got the opportunity to work as the party in-charge of states and Union territories 35-36 times," he said, adding that he got to learn several things from these experiences.

Azad set very high standards as Opposition leader, says PM in RS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke down several times in the Upper House on Tuesday while reminiscing about his close association with the Congress leader and said that Azad had “has set very high standards as MP and Opposition leader”.

"I worry that after Azad whosoever will take over from him will have to fill very big boots because he cared not only about his party but about the country as well as the House. This is not a small thing, this a big thing," Modi said.

He noted that Azad had called him to ask for an all-party meeting during the COVID-19 period.

"I liked that and also did it. This kind of connection is there because he has the experience of both being in power and in Opposition. Twenty-eight years experience in all, it is a big thing," the prime minister said.

Reminiscing about their long association, Modi said that as chief ministers of Jammu ad Kashmir and Gujarat, both of them kept in touch with each other.

The prime minister got emotional recalling Azad’s help and efforts to bring back Gujarati pilgrims stuck in Kashmir during a terror attack in 2007.

Sharing details of their communication, Modi said Azad was the first one to call him about the incident.

"Azad was the first person to call me. During that call he could not stop crying," Modi said.

Rajya Sabha

197 people missing, 20 dead in Uttarakhand flood: Amit Shah

Briefing the Upper House on the Uttarakhand disaster, Union home minister Amit Shah said that as many as 197 people are missing while 20 have died in Sunday's avalanche and flash floods in the state.

He said the figures received from the state government may change and the situation is being monitored round-the-clock at the highest level by the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.

Shah told the Rajya Sabha that the rising water levels washed away the functional Rishiganga small hydro project of 13.2 MW and also affected the under-construction 520 MW NTPC Hydro Power Project at Tapovan on the downstream of the Dhauli Ganga river.

"As per information received from the Government of Uttarakhand, 20 people have died and six persons have been injured so far. As per information, a total of 197 people are reported missing which includes 139 of an under-construction project of NTPC, 46 of the functional Rishi Ganga Project, and 12 villagers," he said.

Twelve people working on the NTPC project and 15 on the Rishi Ganga one have been saved. In a tunnel of the NTPC project, approximately 25-35 people are suspected to be trapped, Shah informed.

"Rescue operation to evacuate these people is going on a war footing and all-out efforts are being made for searching missing persons.

"I assure the House that the Centre is extending all possible assistance to the state government for relief and rescue work. The Central government is working in close coordination with the state and all necessary steps, which are considered appropriate, are being taken," he said.

Since a bridge has been washed away due to the deluge, 13 villages around the place of the incident have been cut off. Necessary supplies and medical assistance are being provided to these villages through helicopters, the Union Home Minister said.

The state government has reported that there is no danger of downstream flooding and the rise in water level has been contained, he said, adding "The centre and the state governments are keeping a strict vigil on the situation."

A meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) under the chairmanship of cabinet secretary was held on 7 February, wherein all the agencies concerned were directed to work in close coordination and to extend all requisite assistance to the state administration.

Shah said both the control rooms of the Ministry of Home Affairs are monitoring the situation and are providing all possible help to the state.

Centre to bring bill on cryptocurrencies 'soon'

Replying to a question in the Upper House, Minister of State For Finance Anurag Thakur told Rajya Sabha that the government will soon bring a bill on cryptocurrencies as existing laws are inadequate to deal with issues concerning them

Thakur said regulatory bodies like RBI and Sebi do not have any legal framework to directly regulate cryptocurrencies as they are not currencies, assets, securities, or, commodities issued by identifiable users.

"The existing laws are inadequate to deal with the subject," he said, "A bill (on cryptocurrencies) is being finalised and it will soon be sent to the Cabinet. We will soon be bringing a bill," he added.

RS passes bill to protect unauthorised colonies in Delhi

The Upper House of Parliament on Tuesday passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to regularise unauthorised colonies in Delhi.

The bill replaces the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, which was promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind on 30 December, 2020, to extend the validity of the act of 2011 for a period of three years from 1 January, 2021, to 31 December, 2023.

"1.35 crore people of Delhi, those living in unauthorised colonies, will get their ownership right," Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said in Rajya Sabha.

The bill provides protection to certain forms of unauthorised developments in Delhi from punitive action where adequate measures are yet to be taken.

Puri said that tenders have been floated for "Jahan Jhuggi Wahan Makaan".

"Delhi will not only benefit from the improvement in living conditions of 1.35 crore people, but the Central Vista project will also make Delhi one of the finest cities in the world," Puri said.

The minister said that the number of 1.35 crore is expected in the next census later this year.

Lok Sabha

Opposition asks govt to shed its 'arrogance' over farm laws

Opposition members on Tuesday asked the government in Lok Sabha to shed its "arrogance" over the three farm laws even as BJP MPs hailed the Centre for its welfare and pro-farmer measures.

Speaking during the discussion on the motion of thanks to the President's address, Preneet Kaur of the Congress dubbed the three acts, which have triggered protests, as black laws and asked the government to repeal them.

She referred to "Khalistani" and "Maoists" barbs used by some people against a section of protesting farmers and said this was wrong while adding that a brother of a protester was a soldier who had laid down his life in the Galwan Valley clash with Chinese soldiers in Ladakh.

"This government is a real threat to our democracy, not farmers," she said, asking the government to shed its arrogance.

Speaking over the new farm laws in the House, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah said these laws are not religious scripture to which changes cannot be made. “If they (farmers) want it to be repealed, why can’t you talk to them? I request that let’s not stand on prestige. It’s our nation. We belong to this nation, let’s respect everybody in the nation,” he said.

TMC's Saugata Roy alleged that several Union ministers are doing "political tourism" in West Bengal.

In an apparent reference to the upcoming state Assembly polls, he said it was a battle between "Bengali and outsiders" and said the state cannot be ruled from Gujarat.

He also took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his 'aandolan-jivi' remark and said the BJP's ideological forebears never went to jail during the freedom struggle. Roy also demanded the repeal of the farm laws.

Former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav too hit out at Modi over his “andolan-jivi” remarks in Parliament.

Yadav said that in spite of the country achieving countless rights through agitation, those who carry on the tradition are being earmarked as "andolan-jivis".

Yadav also slammed the Centre over the new farm laws asking why they are not being repealed when the farmers themselves are against it, citing the allegations of corporate houses getting powerful.

“If the government says that laws are for farmers, why is it not taking it back if farmers aren't accepting it? People, for whom it has been formed, don't want it. Who is stopping the government? Are allegations that you rolled out the carpet for corporates and brought these laws not right?” he asked in the Lok Sabha.

Participating in the discussion on the motion thanking the President for his address to the joint sitting of Parliament, Congress member Ravneet Singh Bittu claimed that one of the three agri bills has mentioned that Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mandis will be scrapped and private mandis will be developed.

Objecting to the remarks, the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur said that the Congress member should tell the House where it was stated in the bill that the mandis will be scrapped. "These people are misleading farmers and the people of the country," he said while referring to the opposition members.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi too raised objections about the claims made by Singh.

Singh also alleged that it was Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav's people who were responsible for violence on 26 January in the National Capital.

Seeking withdrawal of the laws, Bhagwant Mann (AAP) said that some people are terming the protesting farmers as terrorists and questioning the source of funding for 'langar' ( free community kitchens).

Expressing disappointment over the Presidential address, NK Premachandran (RSP) said, "It was completely silent about issues of unemployment, economic recession, territorial integrity, and growing intolerance".

"None of the pertinent issues concerning the country is highlighted in the President's address," he said. He said that the speech did mention the construction of the temple in Ayodhya but not about the construction of the mosque.

Premachandran too demanded a repeal of the three farm laws and sought a detailed discussion in the Parliament. "This agitation (of farmers) is a warning to the government against these oppressive laws...The agitation of farmers is going to signal the downfall of this government," he said.

Shah rejects Adhir Chowdhury's claim that he sat on Tagore's chair

Home Minister Amit Shah rejected the claim by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury that he sat on Rabindranath Tagore's chair during his visit to Visva Bharati.

The minister said the record pertaining to this should be set right, as he produced documents to support his statement and sought Speaker Om Birla's permission to lay them before the House.

"I have a letter from Visva Bharati's Vice-Chancellor where I have sought clarification from him and tell me after analysing the photos and videos whether I sat (on Tagore's chair) there or not.

"He has very clearly stated that nothing of this sort has happened. The reference to the place I sat is a window and anyone can sit there," Shah said.

Shah said that "a former president of the country, (another former President) Pranab Mukherjee, (former Prime Minister) Rajiv Gandhi... and even I sat there (window)".

"And when Bangladesh's Prime Minister paid a visit, she also sat at the same place and penned her comments," Shah said.

Chowdhury had on Monday claimed in the House that Shah during his visit to Shantiniketan sat on Tagore's chair. Shah said before speaking in the House, members should ascertain the facts.

Meanwhile, Shah had also informed Lok Sabha about the situation in Uttarakhand and the response of the government. Essential food and medical supplies are being provided to affected villages through helicopters, Shah said.

The state Public Works Department and the Border Roads Organisation have started repairing five damaged bridges. Central Water Commission personnel are on high alert and a DRDO team is keeping a vigil on avalanches, he said.

BJP MPs move privilege motion against Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

Two BJP MPs in Lok Sabha have moved a notice of privilege against Chowdhury, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said on Tuesday.

The notice has been given against the Congress leader for calling teen activist Greta Thunberg "persona non grata".

Chowdhury had made these remarks on Monday while participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address. The notice of privilege has been moved against Chowdhury by BJP MPs Nishikant Dubey and PP Chowdhary.

Delhi Police acted in 'impartial manner' during northeast Delhi riots, says Centre

The Delhi Police had acted swiftly and in an impartial and fair manner, while dealing with the 2020 northeast Delhi riots, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy also said that proportionate and appropriate actions were taken by the Delhi Police to control the situation.

"During the northeast Delhi riots, Delhi Police acted swiftly in an impartial and fair manner. Proportionate and appropriate actions were taken by Delhi Police to control the situation," he said replying to a written question.

"Sincere, dedicated and incessant efforts made by Delhi Police brought the riotous situation to normalcy within a short span of time and also prevented the riots from spreading across to other areas of Delhi and NCR," he added.

Reddy said the police used appropriate force to control the crowd and disperse it and necessary legal and preventive actions were taken by Delhi Police on all complaints and calls received, as per law and procedures.

The sitting for the Lok Sabha was extended beyond midnight on Tuesday till all listed speakers finish talking. This article will be updated in the morning.

With inputs from PTI

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