With 3 Major Bills, Winter Session Proves Key Before 2019 Polls
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
With the heated rounds of debates on the Rafale jets deal and three big-ticket Bills – Triple Talaq Bill, 10 percent quota Bill and Citizenship Amendment Bill – passed in the lower house, Winter Session proved crucial ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
10% Quota Bill Passed in Lok Sabha by 323 Votes to 3
The landmark Bill, seeking to provide 10 percent reservation in jobs and education for the economically backward persons from the general category, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, 8 January. Most parties backed the measure, with as many as 323 members voting in support of the Bill and only three against it. The Bill was described by the government as "historic" and in the interest of the country.
Shortly after the Bill was passed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government is “resolutely committed to the principle of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'.”
“This is a very historic Bill. Those people who couldn’t get the benefits of reservation till now will be benefited. It had been a demand of people for a long time. This Bill has been brought in the interest of the nation. I’m assured that it’ll be passed in the Rajya Sabha also.Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister
Congress said it supported the Bill, but doubted the government's intentions. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned how the people were going to get the benefit of reservation in jobs when no jobs were being created.
“The government’s tenure is almost about to end. It would have been great if the government passed the Bill earlier. Posts in government jobs are still lying vacant. The government is now talking about reservation in jobs. What about the crores of youth who were rendered jobless due to demonetisation and GST?”PL Punia, Congress Leader
10% Quota Bill Passed in The Upper House Amid Uproar
Rajya Sabha adjourned sine die late Wednesday after passing the historic Constitution amendment bill to provide 10 percent reservation to economically weaker section in general category, with 165 voting in favour and seven against.
The proposed reservation will be over and above the existing 50 percent reservation enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, taking the total reservation to 60 percent.
“I want to clarify that the Congress is in favour of the Bill. But when it comes to provisions, there are a couple of things that have come forward. You have woken up after four and a half years. Don’t take credit for this Bill. We understand you are looking at political brownie points. We are not kids. We all play politics. You are too. But don’t blame us.”Anand Sharma, Congress MP
Citizenship Amendment Bill Passed in Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday, 8 November, passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, despite opposition from various political parties, including Congress and Trinamool Congress. The Bill seeks to remove hurdles in eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan getting Indian citizenship,
“Once this Amendment Bill becomes a law, the migrants can apply for Indian citizenship. Based on the process to be followed on their appeals after the particular state government’s recommendation, following thorough background check, the central government can grant them citizenship. I assure that this Amendment Bill is not just for the state of Assam or for the welfare of migrants migrating from any specific country. Thousands of migrants migrate from the Western countries and settle in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and other states. This Amendment Bill applies to them as well.”Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister
As the Congress and the TMC's demand for sending the Bill again to a parliamentary panel was rejected by the government, they staged a walkout.
“When you have a brute majority, you can pass anything. But the fact is, the people of Assam are taking this as a very unpleasant development because we haven’t heard the govt explain why it has been done and the explanation that the prime minister has given is completely unacceptable. He says that this is righting the wrongs of history. Who is righting the wrongs of history? Who has done the wrong? These are people who are in different countries. If these people seek citizenship of India, if they want to come back, one should have a uniform law that applies to them. You can’t pick out and say what their religion and background is. You need to have a single citizenship law. Suddenly we have two different citizenship laws in the country: one for everyone and one for some particular people.”Salman Khurshid, Congress Leader
Citizenship Amendment Bill Not Moved in Rajya Sabha
The Rajya Sabha did not take up the Citizenship Amendment Bill on the last day of the winter session and the government is expected to push for passing the bill in the budget session of parliament.
Triple Talaq Bill Passed in Lok Sabha by 245 Votes to 11
The Lok Sabha on Thursday, 27 December, passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, making instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband. While tabling the bill, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that this is a ‘historic moment’.
“From January 2017 to 10 December, 477 cases of instant triple talaq have been recorded across the country. These are what we know about. Triple talaq has been curtailed in more than 20 Islamic countries. India is a secular country. Then, why are objections been raised here? This issue shouldn’t be seen under the prism of politics. This should be seen under the light of justice and humanity. This issue is related to justice for women, their pride and their respect.”Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Law Minister
The bill was passed after the House rejected a string of amendments moved by various Opposition members. MPs from the RJD, the AIMIM, the BJD, the AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the bill, calling it arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal.
“How is it justified that a government interferes with a religion and makes a law for its followers? Hence, I request the Chair and the government that the Bill is sent to a Joint Select Committee. You can provide them with a time frame of a month or 15 days, whatever you find appropriate so the Bill can be passed smoothly.”Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress MP
'Point-By-Point' Rebuttal on Rafale Row
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday, 4 January, accused PM Narendra Modi of “running away from the House” and not answering fundamental questions on Rafale. Calling for a one-on-one debate with the prime minister on the Rafale deal, Gandhi dismissed government’s defence of the deal and demanded PM Modi to answer who inflated the price of the jets.
“Who decided to raise the price of the aircraft from Rs 526 crores to Rs 1,600 crores? The Air Force requires 126 planes. Who reduced the number of planes to 36? Anil Ambani made Rs 30,000 crores out of this deal. Who decided to shut HAL out of the deal? Who decided to give the contract to Anil Ambani? Did the defence ministry object to any part of this new deal?”Rahul Gandhi, Congress President
During her nearly two-hour response to a discussion on the Rafale issue in the Lok Sabha on Saturday, 4 January, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the Congress of resorting to “falsehood” to mislead the country. She gave a "point-by-point" rebuttal to the Opposition's allegations, including that on the price of the fighter aircraft and HAL not getting the offset contract.
“The then RM (Raksha Mantri) said to the media on 6 February 2016, ‘We can’t buy, where is the money?’ I want to ask, which money? You are misleading the country by saying that Modi ji reduced 126 to 36. Your 18 has been increased to 36 and that is coming this year. There was no agreement of Dassault with HAL. Therefore, they did not constantly shed crocodile tears for HAL. We don’t do defence dealings.We deal in defence with national security as a priority.Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister