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Monsoon Session of Parliament, Day 12: Debates on LPG subsidy, demonetisation and NOTA dominate proceedings

Day 12 of the Monsoon Session of Parliament on Tuesday saw a wide range of discussions taking place, including those on LPG subsidy, demonetisation, illegal migration, terror funding, NOTA and salaries of members of Parliament.

On Tuesday morning, BJP president Amit Shah took note of the absence of party members from Rajya Sabha, a day after the party faced a major embarrassment in the Upper House, when the Opposition pushed through an amendment to a bill granting constitutional status to the OBC Commission, which they could manage because the treasury benches lacked numbers.

File image of Lok Sabha. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Addressing the BJP parliamentary party meet, Shah said those who were absent had to be cautious in the future. He also asked MPs to "expose Congress" for stalling the setting up of the OBC Commission.

As Question Hour began in Lok Sabha, AIMIM MP Asadaduddin Owaisi raised a discussion on Aadhaar-based fertiliser distribution systems.

BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi, when asked if the government has plans to spread ancient science related to cows and cattle, said cow urine is so beneficial that it helped a former government law officer "recover from a serious illness".

BJP MP Kirit Somaiya raised graft allegations against West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek, which resulted in Trinamool Congress MPs raising an objection, but the ensuing ruckus was soon brought under control.

This was followed by a discussion on illegal migrants. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the government has no "accurate data" regarding illegal migrants who have entered India and said one particular community cannot be "branded" for having alleged links with terrorists and terrorism. "We cannot say that," he said during Question Hour.

He added that several illegal migrants have "acquired documents" to make their stay in the country legal.

Before long, the demonetisation debate took over Lok Sabha, with the Opposition trying to corner the government by saying its claims that note ban would help eradicate terrorism and fake currency has fallen flat.

Initiating a discussion on 'Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2017-18' in Lok Sabha, Congress' KC Venugopal wanted to know from the government how much of demonetised currency has been deposited in the banks, and how many new notes have been printed so far, and how much black money has been unearthed. In the mean time, the government also withdrew 'The Participation of Workers in Management Bill, 1990'.

Later in the day, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley answered members' concerns about the Goods and Services Tax, saying the GST Council, at its next meeting later this week, will finalise a mechanism to operationalise the anti-profiteering clause which seeks to protect consumers' interest.

Referring to concerns raised by members with regard to GST's impact on prices, Jaitley said it would be mandatory for manufacturers to pass on the benefits of reduction in taxes to consumers.

BJP member Varun Gandhi questioned lawmakers' power to hike their own salaries and objected to major bills like Aadhaar being passed without serious discussions or referring them to a parliamentary panel. Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Lok Sabha, he pitched for an external body to decide on lawmakers' salary hike while wondering whether MPs had earned the 400 percent renumeration hike they gave themselves over the last decade.

"When matters regarding salary are raised recurrently, it makes me worry about the moral compass of the House. Nearly 18,000 farmers have committed suicide over the last one year. Where is our focus?" he asked.

Lok Sabha was later adjourned for the day following the passage of the 'Supplementary Grants Bill'.

Meanwhile, Congress stalled Upper House proceedings and forced two adjournments during Question Hour over the use of 'None of the Above' (NOTA) option in Rajya Sabha elections. The party questioned NOTA's legality when given as an option in the ballots during the 8 August Rajya Sabha election.

However, an Election Commission official said the option has been in effect since 2014 and was incorporated after a Supreme Court judgment.

A united Opposition stalled the pre-noon proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, protesting against the government's decision to hike the prices of domestic LPG by Rs 4 per cylinder every month to eliminate all subsidies by next March. The issue was raised by Derek O'Brien of the TMC who gave a notice under rule 267 that seeks to set aside business of the day to discuss an important issue.

The Rajya Sabha chair also passed strictures for not inviting Vice-President Hamid Ansari for the inauguration of a new annexe complex of Parliament.

After a brief debate, the Rajya Sabha passed the 'Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017', extending the deadline for teachers to acquire the prescribed minimum qualifications for appointment by four years.

The bill amended the 'Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009'. Under the new act, teachers who do not possess minimum qualifications as on 31 March, 2015, will have to acquire them within a period of four years, that is by 31 March, 2019. The Lok Sabha has already passed the Bill.

Updated Date: Aug 01, 2017 21:30 PM

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