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Moment of embarrassment for Narendra Modi government in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi (dna):Prime minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government faced a moment of embarrassment in the Rajya Sabha when the Opposition used its majority to force an amendment in the motion of thanks to the president for his inaugural address to the joint session of Parliament. The House passed CPI (M) leader Sita Ram Yechuri’s amendments criticising the government for its failure to curb ‘the high-level corruption’ and bring back black money stashed abroad was passed by the House.

In the past 60-years of parliamentary history, amendments to the President’s address have been carried only thrice – in 1980, 1989 and in 2001. At the end of prime minister Modi’s reply to the debate on the motion of thanks, Yechuri insisted on pressing his amendment to the motion. The amendment was carried by a majority of 61 votes, 118 in favour and 57 against.

Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu tried in vain to persuade him that the tradition is to normally adopt the motion thanking the President without changes, but Yechuri shot back that he was retaliating to violation of the normal procedure of the members’ inalienable right to seek clarifications after the PM’s reply. He said even the leader of opposition was not allowed to ask questions and prime minister Narendra did not have even courtesy to stay back until the motion is adopted.

The President’s address is actually prepared by the government on the work done and to be done by it in the coming year and the motion of thanks is also brought by a ruling party member and as such passage of the amendment amounts to a sort of snap censure of the government.

The BJP leaders dismissed the development as an arrogance of the opposition to display its brute majority in the Upper House, pointing out that this was the reason why the government was pushing all Ordinance-related Bills in the Lok Sabha where the party has a clear majority to get all legislations passed. Since the opposition has shown its teeth despite the PM’s appeal for cooperation, the leaders said the government would have no choice but to have a joint session of Parliament to pass all legislations blocked by the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Earlier, in his hour-long reply to the 14-hour long debate, Modi made a pitch for his government’s controversial land acquisition bill. He asked the Opposition to cooperate. “The law will stay. We will remove the shortcomings. I urge you to help us and together we can take India’s development ahead,” he said, asking the Opposition not to make the land bill an issue of politics or arrogance.

He, however, refused to comment on the controversial statement of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohd Sayeed, saying he won’t respond to anybody’s statements. “If somebody makes a statement somewhere and we are forced to respond here, things will not work,” the prime minister said. Instead, he asserted that the PDP-BJP government was formed on the basis of the common minimum programme and it will function on the basis of the CMP. He vowed “zero tolerance” towards terrorism and asserted that there shall be no compromise on the Parliament resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir (as integral part of India).

He went on to give credit for the polls to the people of the state, congratulated the voters for keeping up the democratic tradition and removing the doubts across the world by exercising their franchise.

A senior BJP leader said there is a clear understanding that Mufti will have to make certain statements to win over the Kashmiris who may be upset with him or aligning with the BJP and as such the BJP has to be careful in not getting engaged in any confrontation with him. That explains why Modi made the cautious comment, he said.

Previous amendments in RS to Motion of Thanks

  1. In 1980, an amendment was adopted to the President’s address delivered regretting that the address does not take notice of the disturbing attempts to engineer defections on a large scale in the Assemblies in the States under the non-Congress (I) Governments and even to arbitrarily dissolve such Assemblies in flagrant violation of all federal principles.
  2. In 1989, six amendments to the Motion of Thanks were carried to the effect that the address does not mention about the burning Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid, does not make any mention about the steps to be taken to avert destabilsiing Stte governments; fails to state that the Government will amend the Constitution to ensure the ‘Right to Work’ as a Fundamental Right; –does not mention about Indo-Sri Lanka Accord and also fails to specify Government’s stand on the question of life and security of the Tamils and the devolution of power to the North-Eastern Provinces; fails to define Government’s stand on Anandpur Sabeb Resoluti0n which compromises the unity and integrity of the country; does not contain any mention whatsoever of the abject surrender of the Government to the demands of anti-national secessionist forces in Jammu and Kashmir by releasing the terrorists in December 1989, there by putting the entire nation and its dignity to ignominious shame.
  3. In 2001, an amendment was adopted that the address does not contain the Government’s decision to sell out BALCO, , to a private sector company.

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