NEW DELHI(PTI):Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday made a fresh pitch for passage of GST…
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday made a fresh pitch for passage of GST and other legislations in the Rajya Sabha considering the “conducive atmosphere” that has been prevailing in Parliament this session with cooperation from the opposition.
Referring to some 300 amendments that have been tabled to the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Upper House, Mr. Modi appealed to the parties to withdraw them and pass the motion unanimously to ensure dignity of the President’s office and in keeping with the high traditions of the House.
However, despite his appeal, the government suffered an embarrassment when the House adopted the motion of thanks to President’s address with an amendment moved by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in a division in which 94 voted for the amendment and 61 against.
The amendment regretted that the address did not commit support to rights of all citizens to contest panchayat elections in the backdrop of law in Rajasthan and Haryana, where matriculation has been fixed as the criteria for contesting the polls.
During his speech, Mr. Modi invoked Jawaharlal Nehru’s words to say that Rajya Sabha is a chamber of ideas and there was need for coordination between it and the Lok Sabha because both of them are part of a structure.
“I hope we give importance to Pandit Nehru’s thinking and I hope all pending Bills are passed in this session,” he said.
“We have been running Parliament this session smoothly for this I would thank the opposition for carrying forward President’s message. The impact of the President’s message is a matter of pride for us,” he said.
Pointing to the smooth functioning of the Houses this session, Mr. Modi said the Lok Sabha sat till midnight on Tuesday and the Rajya Sabha had a late sitting a couple of days ago.
“Even after the late sittings, the members were enthusiastic and excited. Because, after a long time, they got an opportunity to express themselves in Parliament and to put through their views across.
“The Question Hour is a good opportunity for members to keep the government, Ministers and the executive on a tight leash and ensure accountability, which is greatest strength of democracy,” he said.
The Prime Minister told the Congress that it was in power for long and that the NDA has got the opportunity now.
“Development in fits and starts is not enough. Such an approach will leave us far behind. We need to move from incremental to quantum jump,” he said.
‘Need for cooperation between both Houses’
Mr. Modi pressed the need for cooperation between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, considering the fact that many of the Bills passed by the Lower House have got stuck in the Upper House.
“This is the Upper House. When great people move, others follow them… Whatever happens in this House (Rajya Sabha), its impact is felt on Lok Sabha, Assemblies and municipal corporations. So we should think how to create an atmosphere by which democracy can be strengthened,” he said.
Mr. Modi mentioned the GST Bill and said there are many Bills like this, which are pending in the Rajya Sabha.
“The peoples’ representatives (Lok Sabha) have endorsed (Bills) but representatives of the States (Rajya Sabha) have not,” he said.
PM targets Congress
The Prime Minister targeted Congress for claiming ownership to the schemes of his government by quoting Indira Gandhi as saying, “There are two kinds of people in the world — one who works and another who takes credit for it. You try to belong to the first category because there is little competition in it.
While noting that all governments have made some contribution, the Prime Minister said, “If we work with the attitude of ‘hota hai, chalta hai’, it will take a long time for the development of a big country like India. We need to apply full force.”
Modi dares Azad, mocks Aiyar
The Prime Minister referred to the qualification criteria fixed in Rajasthan and Haryana for those contesting panchayat polls and said it has been approved by the Supreme Court but attempts are being made to give it a “political colour”.
“There can be difference of opinion…Some say what about those who remained illiterate,” he said, and went on to target Congress, saying the reason for ‘illiteracy’ was the policies followed by its government after independence.
“We want to bring any qualitative change but it is being politicised,” Mr. Modi said, daring Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad to give 33 per cent tickets to totally illiterate people to contest the upcoming Assembly elections in the five States to demonstrate Congress’ commitment in this regard.
Congress member Mani Shankar Aiyar intercepted to say that the Prime Minister has no idea how much illiteracy has increased since independence and he is insulting the nation by his remarks.
Mr. Modi, however, was sarcastically dismissive of his comments, terming these as bhule bisre geet (old songs) sung by someone whose membership is coming to an end.
While targeting Congress, Mr. Modi likened it to ‘death’, saying the party never gets any blame.
“Death has a blessing. It never gets blamed for anything. If somebody dies, the blame goes to reasons like cancer, age. Death itself is never blamed or defamed.”
“Sometimes I feel that Congress has this blessing. If we criticise Congress, the media terms it as ‘attack on opposition’ but not an attack on Congress. However, if we attack (JD-U leader) Sharadji (Yadav) or BSP, then it said it is an attack on JD-U or BSP.”
“Congress never gets the blame. It needs to be pondered upon as this is in itself a big science,” he said.