The Lok Sabha saw the Finance Minister’s reply to the discussion on the Union Budget. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill is being discussed in the House.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till March 8 yesterday. The House was in session for two weeks, and passed three Bills before adjournment.
Here are the updates:
Lok Sabha | 1.00 pm
Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) recalls the ordinance came just three weeks before the House was supposed to assemble. Why this hurry, he asks.
Article 370 has just be put on hold, not abolished, Mr. Mahtab clarifies. Are all laws of India are being implemented in both the UTs? Have they been useful in improving the lives of people in these regions, he asks.
Lok Sabha | 12.45 pm
Rajeev Ranjan Singh Lalan (JD-U) says there is no point in discussing Article 370 and 35A now, since the law has been enacted. He lauds the Bill saying this will enable great minds to work for the welfare of the Union Territory.
Malook Nagar (BSP) reminds Home Minister’s assurance that Gujjar’s will be taken care of.
Lok Sabha | 12.40 pm
Reserve 5% jobs to locals: YSRCP
C. Anuradha (YSRCP) supports the Bill. Citing the second Administrative Reforms Committee report tabled in 2009, she suggests the government implement it.
She also requests the government to reserve 5% jobs to local Kashmiris in all public and private jobs.
Lok Sabha | 12.30 pm
For the first time in Indian history, the government abolished a State: Roy
“I am happy that the Home Minister is here. He has been given relief from visiting West Bengal, perhaps, for electoral purposes,” says Professor Saugatha Roy (Trinamool Congress).
For the first time in Indian history, the government abolished a State, he says referring to the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir to two union territories. What did you achieve, he asks.
I don’t think everything happened in Kashmir since Independence was good. Shiek Abdullah should not have been arrested then. Mainstream politicians shouldn’t have been detained now, he says.
Have you gone to Kashmir dada, asks a member. “I have gone many times. It’s like home,” says Prof. Roy.
Lok Sabha | 12.20 pm
‘Want a federal structure, not a unitary structure’
Dr. T. Sumathy Tamizhachi thangapandian of DMK expresses disappointment about the PM calling activists as aandolanjeevi and pans the Bill.
The DMK has always stood by principles of the federalism and democracy, she says and quotes the founder of the party, C.N. Annadurai. “We thus want a federal structure and not a unitary structure.”
She opposes the Bill and quotes John Locke, the father of liberalism, and concludes, “when injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes duty.”
The government might bifurcate Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal also tomorrow, since these states will not elect the BJP, she says.
Lok Sabha | 12.10 pm
‘For uniformity with rest of the country, this Bill is required’
Dr. Satyapal of BJP says, “I want to allay fears of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary. This amendment is for the all round development and integration of J&K.”
“J&K was teerth bhoomi. But in the 13th century, sultans entered the fray and drove out the non-Muslims. From 100% four hundred years ago, now there are only 10% non-Muslim Kashmiris.” “Whatever was left from Rustom-E-Islam was finished off by the Muftis and the Abdullahs.”
He says, “Under the All India Services, for J&K has a provision to have 50% locals, unlike the rest of country where a provision of 33% for locals exists.”
J&K bureaucrats used to come under pressure of local politicians because of non-transferability outside the State, he says.
“Public property in the State was destroyed, but lack of central laws meant no restitution. For uniformity with rest of the country, this Bill is required,” he says.
Lok Sabha | 12 pm
‘Govt. should have waited for SC to decide on challenge to abrogation of Article 370 before bring in this law’
Hasnain Masoodi of NC opposes the Bill. The Bill violates the precepts of both democracy and separation of powers, he says.
“The abrogation of 370 was an attack on us and we have resolved to fight it via valid means. The government should have waited for the disposal of legal challenges to abrogation of 370 before bringing in this Bill. What if,tomorrow, the Supreme Court says the abrogation is invalid under law?” he asks.
“You are heading towards confusion. This Bill also goes against the Home Minister’s own promise on August 5, 2019 that statehood will be restored. You want to keep a Damocles sword on Kashmiri officers that they could well be sent off to Mizoram.”
Local Officers are important in Jammu and Kasmhir, he says.
“You are pushing J&K towards uncertainty. Restore the position of August 4, 2019. Why isn’t ‘one nation, one constitution’ a matter in Bodoland, in the northeast? We didn’t even have the Inner Line Permit that exists in northeast,” he says.
Lok Sabha | 11.45 am
‘You promised much but turned the State into a jail’
Secondly, Mr. Chowdhary says, it would be better if the cadre were local cadre. “J&K is a special case. There is a deep trust deficit between people and the government. Therefore, locals who understand the culture of the place should be recruited rather than impose AGMUT officers,” he says.
Other States served by the AGMUT also want their own cadre- like Arunachal Pradesh, he says. “We are worried about J&K as things are not normal there. You had imprisoned former Chief Ministers of J&K and God knows how many are still in jail. You promised much but turned the State into a jail. Communications were down as though it were not a part of the country. You said you conducted District Development Council (DDC) polls but we saw how, in the name of security, you imprisoned the candidates. You tried to get scams like the Roshni schemes, out to eliminate your political opponents, especially in the Muslim-majority parts of the Kashmir Valley.”
The majority of businesses in J&K have been destroyed, Mr. Chowdhary says. “Have you done anything to bring back Kashmiri Pandits as promised, have you restored their lands?” he asks.
“You mentioned Pandits in the manifesto of your party, but did nothing to get them back to Kashmir. Why do you take ad hoc measures? You say you will restore statehood, then why not create a State cadre?” he asks.
Lok Sabha | 11.30 am
J&K Reorganisation Bill taken up
Adhir Chowdhary of the Congress moves resolution disapproving the Bill.
G. Kishen Reddy, MoS Home, moves the Bill for consideration.
He says, “the dream of one nation, one constitution for every Indian was fulfilled after the J&K law of 2019. The need is to move forward with development now. 170 central Acts are being implemented in J&K. The cadre strength needs improvement and those with experience of U.T. administration are needed. For this, J&K cadre is proposed to be merged with the AGMUT cadre. The J&K administration will be bolstered by officers of the Central pool.”
Adhir Chowdhary of Congress says, “I don’t see the necessity for bringing in an Ordinance. Ordinances should be preceded by emergency situation or extraordinary phenomenon. If you go for promulgating Ordinances for routine things you are abrogating the authority of the Parliament. The Ordinance has been promulgated in a superficial manner, without rhyme or reason. You should not appear as a government of Ordinances.”
“We had not objected to holding a Winter Session. It was objected to by the government.”
“Our point of contention on the Bill is loud and clear: a year-and-a-half after abrogation of Article 370 and promising to turn it to heaven on earth, you bring this Bill for more cadre. This means you abrogated Article 370 without any preparation.”
Lok Sabha | 11 am
‘Rahul gandhi did not speak of the party’s U-turn on farm bills’
Giving clarifications to specific queries raised during the debate, she says a permanent Defence fund has been agreed to in principle and modalities were being worked out.
“It was a disappointment for me to hear the former president of the Opposition party say he would not speak on the Budget during the debate and only speak on the farmers issue,” Ms. Sitharaman says, referring to Rahul Gandhi’s address.
“The attempt here is to reply to each Member on the issues they raised. The honourable Member is not present here but I will respond to him too,” Ms. Sitharaman says about Mr. Gandhi’s speech. “Since K. Suresh has given me permission to raise the MP’s name I shall name him – Shri Rahul Gandhi.”
“When the “foundation” was being laid for the Budget speech which was not delivered (by Rahul Gandhi), he did not mention the U-turn the Congress made on the farm bills, which they mentioned in the 2019 elections manifesto.”
That was the first point, she says, adding she has a total of ten points to tell the House about Mr. Gandhi’s speech. “I had these expectations from his speech.”
“Second, why does the Congress promise farm loans waiver and then renege on it if they love farmers so much?” “My expectation was that when the senior leader was laying the “foundation” for his Budget speech, he would explain all this. But he did not.”
“I expected Rahul Gandhi to flag the issue of stubble burning and get some relief, in at least the Congress-ruled States.”
“I expected that he would at least explain how even one clause of the three farm laws hurt the interests of the farmer, expected that he would declare that the farmers’ land encroached by the damad of the family was asked to be returned under his instruction.”
“I expected he would explain why the Congress forgot the statement of Dr. Manmohan Singh on farm laws.”
“I expected that Rahul Gandhi would have shown whether even one APMC Mandi was shut after the new laws were passed.”
She says she has a question for Mr. Gandhi: “Why does he choose to insult constitutional authorities? He humiliated the Speaker on that day. He humiliated Dr. Manmohan Singh by tearing up an Ordinance passed by his Parliament. Insulting the President of India by discussing his address in the Budget speech. Why does he do it?”
Fake narratives were continuously created by him, she says. “He has constantly said things that demean India, that nothing will go well for India. He effected an MoU with a country that means mischief to us. When there is something on the border with that country, rather than speak to his own country’s government, he speaks to the embassy of that foreign country,” she says.
“He is constantly indulging in the politics of the fringe and insulting constitutional authorities. He is perhaps becoming the “Doomsday Man of India”. I have apprehensions for the Opposition that is in the clutches of this “Doomsday Man of India”,” she says.
“In the entire history of free India, discussions on the Budget have taken place every year. What does this Opposition leader want to state by refusing to speak on the Budget?” she asks.
Why is the same party taking a different stance in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, she asks, of Congress Congress’ belief in democratic systems is completely over, she alleges.
The Finance Minister’s address concludes.
Lok Sabha | 10.45 am
‘We do not work for the damads‘
Regarding allocation to the MSME sector, the Minister says, “even during the lockdown, announcements were made addressing the distress of the MSME sector. Suspension of the IBC, relaxation of compliance issues, allocation of additional working capital and loans without asking for additional security- these were our measures for the MSME sector.”
The approach that the government took to deal with the pandemic may be different, but it worked for India, she says.
She talks about the Swanidhi Yojana. She says, “15 lakh vendors got funds. They are neither our nor your cronies. We don’t work for any damads (son-in-law) or for cronies. Our programmes benefit ordinary people. The Opposition claims we work for cronies but gives a port to one of the people who they claim are our cronies.”
False narratives are being proliferated by the Opposition, she says.
Lok Sabha | 10.30 am
9.67% growth in allocation to core health: FM
On health, the Finance Minister justifies including water and sanitation in the total allocation for Health, as the government’s approach for public health.
The core allocations have also not been reduced, she says.
“9.67% growth is seen in the allocation to core health.”
She gives details on the Defence Budget.
Ms. Sitharaman says the UPA should take credit for the MGNREGA and also for the way it was misused. “Misused by their cronies,” she says. “Hum do hamarey do” (we two, ours two) works for this.”
“The Congress has two tendencies – one, to give birth to schemes like MGNREGA and allocate money, and two,to keep the funds unutilised. The money is also diverted to cronies.”
Lok Sabha | 10.10 am
Finance Minister Sitharaman addresses the House
Finance Minister thanks all 77 members who spoke during the debate on the Union Budget in the Lok Sabha.
“This budget has set the pace for India becoming aatmanirbhar (self-reliant),” she says.
“We have actually managed to bend the curve and the revival of the economy can be achieved. I want to highlight stimulus plus reform. The situation created by the pandemic did not deter us from attempting reforms. Several measures were announced both times- when the aatmanirbhar package was announced and also in the Budget,” Ms. Sitharaman says.
Ms. Sitharaman says reforms riveted in a policy, and not in a subjective, knee jerk fashion, “but in a way that would lay the path for India to be a top economy. The reforms announced do not allow for a rudimentary approach.”
Poverty reduction has happened after India freed itself from the notorious license quota Raj, the Minister alleges.
“We have to trace the economic history of when we started with an adoring view of socialism. Nationalising institutions between 1948 and 1975 began denigrating Indian businesses.”
“1991 happened under duress, while the party which opened the economy was the same that advocated socialism earlier. They are trying to own that which they did not implement early.”
“Since the Jan Sangh days, respecting Indian entrepreneurial, trade, managerial skills has been important. We didn’t borrow or create some hybrid. We didn’t go from a command-control economy to reforms. We have always believed in the economic strength of India. Respecting wealth creators, honest tax payers is a policy we follow. Unless wealth creators generate wealth, government will not have anything to distribute to the poor,” the Finance Minister says.
Responding to specific questions on reduction in allocations to various Ministries, the Minister says the West Bengal government did not send the Centre a list of beneficiaries for the PM Kisan Nidhi, “therefore there was a reduction in allocation”.
Lok Sabha | 10 am
Lok Sabha proceedings begin
Papers are being tabled.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary of Congress says, “Mushidabad is an aspirational district and is facing a lot of problem of erosion. Request help to deal with the issue as State government is putting the blame on the Centre. He also asks that a textile park to be set up in Murshidabad.