Sushma motion objects to NCTC reference in President's address

The government could face embarrassment on Thursday over reference to the controversial National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in the motion of thanks to the President's address to the joint session of Parliament. The motion is expected to come up for voting.

Several parties including the Trinamool Congress have tabled motions objecting to the reference to the (NCTC) in the President's address.

The motion tabled by TMC has been rejected on technical grounds. However, the government can hardly draw solace from it as a similar one by the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj has been admitted.

The President's address is actually a document of the government outlining its programmes and policies for the fiscal year and cleared by the Cabinet. It is customary for Parliament to adopt a motion thanking the President for the address.

The amendment moved by Ms. Swaraj says: “We regret that the Address of the President to the Joint Session of Parliament fails to take into consideration that the NCTC hurts federalism.”

Given the belligerent mood of the TMC, in all probability the motion could be carried if Ms. Swaraj insists on a voting on it. Adoption of the motion would have no legal implications for the Manmohan Singh government but is a political embarrassment.

There have been several instances when amendments to the President's address have been carried. In 1989, the motion mentioned seven different subjects which did not figure in the President's address.

President Pratibha Patil had said that the National Intelligence Grid and the NCTC aim to improve India's capability to counter internal security threats.

The TMC and the Opposition parties are of the view that the government should not have included NCTC in the speech of the President as the issue is still being debated.

The Centre and several States including West Bengal are engaged in a tug of war over the setting up of the NCTC. The States have contended that the NCTC undermines their functioning and poses a threat to federalism.