With the Union Budget over, both houses of Indian Parliament saw important business. The ongoing budget session as expected was stormy sometimes, in light of the stance of several opposition parties against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The government has said that it is willing to discuss all issues permitted by the Chair. The government’s legislative agenda for this session includes 45 bills and seven financial items. The opposition parties have geared- up to corner the government in Parliament over several issues.
The Rajya Sabha (Upper House) was adjourned following ruckus by the Opposition over the Citizenship Amendment Act, NPR and other issues. When the House met again, the Members from Congress, Left, TMC, DMK, SP and others trooped into the well raising slogans. Deputy Chairman Harivansh tried to take up discussion on Motion of thanks to the President’s address to the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, amid noisy scenes. Leader of the House Thawar Chand Gehlot urged the Opposition members to allow the House to take up discussion but in vain. The Opposition members had given adjournment notices over CAA, NPR and related issues, which was denied by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. In the Upper House, persistence of the Chairman Venkiah Naidu to continue the proceedings apparently caught the Members unaware.
The House also paid tributes to the departed Sultan of Oman, Qaboos Bin Said Al Said. It also expressed condolences over the loss of lives in tragic bush-fire incidents in Australia. The MPs highlighted issues such as Coronavirus, onion exports and locust attacks in Rajasthan.
In the Lok Sabha (Lower House) also, Opposition Members led by Congress created uproarious scenes. As soon as the House met, Congress, DMK, BSP and Left MPs trooped to the well of the House shouting slogans. Members also raised slogans over the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
Another highlight of the week was the Prime Minister’s announcement in the Lok Sabha on February 5th regarding the formation of a trust to construct the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, as directed by the Supreme Court of India, in its landmark verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid case in November last year.
With protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and proposed National Register of Citizens, the government reiterated its stated position in the Lower House (Lok Sabha), that it has not taken any decision on a countrywide NRC. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi also moved to allay fears over personal data being collected for the pre-Census updation of the National Population Register (NPR) by making clear that no document will be collected during the exercise-and that providing Aadhar Number would be voluntary. Prime Minister said that the NPR was started by the UPA government in 2010 and it is required to provide benefits to the people. Mr. Modi said that politics should not be played where people’s welfare is concerned. Replying to a written question on the NRC, the Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said “Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens at the National level”.
Replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address, in the Rajya sabha (Upper House) Prime Minister Modi said that the abrogation of the Article 370 has led to the complete integration of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of the country. He described Jammu and Kashmir as the ‘Crown’ of India and that the real identity of J&K is its egalitarian attitude towards all faiths and its Sufi Tradition.
Prime Minister also said that after the verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue came out, the people of India displayed remarkable faith in the democratic processes and procedures. “Let us all support construction of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya”. There were slogans supporting the government‘s move from the treasury benches. The government will seek to replace Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 and the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 with bills during the on-going session.
Script: Yogesh Sood, Journalist