Parliament Budget Session February 9 Highlights

In Rajya Sabha, BJP’s Laxmikant Bajpai issued a three-line whip to party MPs to be present in the House on February 10 to support the government’s stand

February 09, 2024 10:54 am | Updated February 10, 2024 06:30 am IST

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury speaks in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the government’s white paper alleging mismanagement of economy during UPA regime, on February 9, 2024. (Screengrab/Sansad TV)

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury speaks in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the government’s white paper alleging mismanagement of economy during UPA regime, on February 9, 2024. (Screengrab/Sansad TV)

The Lok Sabha discussed the ‘White Paper on Indian economy’ which was on Thursday presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The document outlined the ‘crisis’ created during the UPA era and the efforts to correct it in the 10 years of the Modi government. This was followed by a reply from the Finance Minister to the discussion. Motions to disapprove of the tabling of the white paper by MPs N.K Premachandran and Sougata Ray were rejected via a voice vote. 

Rajya Sabha passed the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 on Friday. The House also took up three Jammu and Kashmir reservation Bills for discussion, and passed them via voice vote. These include the Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024. Union Minister Jitendra Singh later moved the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, which was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this week.

Rajya Sabha on Thursday bid farewell to 68 retiring MPs, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi praising former PM Manmohan Singh for his commitment to lead the House and the country. The Upper House returned the Finance Bill 2024 and the relevant appropriation bills to the Lok Sabha, thus completing the exercise of passing the interim Budget for 2024-25. The Lower House, meanwhile, gave its nod to three Bills. For updates on Day 7 of the Parliament budget session, click here.

Here are the highlights

  • February 09, 2024 19:40
    Lok Sabha adjourned till 11 am tomorrow

    Speaker Om Birla adjourns the proceedings of Lok Sabha till 11 am tomorrow, that is, February 10. 

  • February 09, 2024 19:39
    MP Sougata Ray’s motion disapproving the white paper rejected by voice vote
  • February 09, 2024 19:39
    MP N.K Premachandran’s motion disapproving the white paper rejected by voice vote
  • February 09, 2024 19:38
    We will put nation first, not ourselves first: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    Ms. Sitharaman concludes her speech by saying that they aim to reach the Viksit Bharat goal by 2047, taking everyone along, and keeping, not ourselves first, but the nation first approach. 

    “Sabka saath, sabka vishwas, sabka prayaas ke saath yeh desh aage badhega,’ she says.

  • February 09, 2024 19:35
    Inflation greater during UPA regime: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    Ms. Sitharaman touches upon inflation next. She says that between 2004 and 2014, average annual inflation was 8.2%, and that in the last three years, it averaged 9.8%.

    Under UPA, retail inflation was more than 9% for 22 months, our retail inflation was mostly at 5%, never crossed 8%, she said. 

  • February 09, 2024 19:32
    Unemployment rate for graduates dropped to 13.4%: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    Labour is the next topic taken up by FM Nirmala Sitharaman. 

    Labour markets have witnessed a falling unemployment rate, declining from 5.8% in 2018-19, to 3.2% in 2022-23, she says. While unemployment rate for graduates has dropped to 13.4%, the decline has been even sharper for female graduates from 27% to 20.5% during this time, she says. 

    Through the PLI scheme, 1.07 lakh crore investment has come and 7 lakh employment generation has taken place, she says, also noting that net EPFO payroll additions tripled from 61 lakh in 2018-19.

    She says that as far as government jobs are concerned, 8,82,191 central government vacancies have been filled up in the last nine years, with no bribes and complete transparency. Regional recruitment boards gave government jobs to 4,30,592 youth between 2014 and 2023, while the Government Rozgar Mela has led to 10 lakh recruitments, of which over 6 lakh have received their appointment letters, she says. 

    The gig economy has created 77 lakh jobs, she says. 

  • February 09, 2024 19:28
    Congress sold out farmer’s interest in WTO Bali declaration: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    FM Nirmala Sitharaman moves on to speaking about food security. 

    She highlights that in 2013, in Bali, a WTO declaration was signed by the Commerce Minister about procuring India’s PDS buffer stocks through Minimum Support Price, as per which the procurement was to stop in the country from 2017. So procurement, creation of buffer stock and distribution was to be stopped. I fought as Commerce Minister and brought back the provision. They sold out the farmer’s and consumer’s interest as per the Bali declaration of WTO, she says. 

    And they assert that they have brought the Food Security Act, she says. 

  • February 09, 2024 19:25
    We implemented Aadhar, you rejected it: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    FM Nirmala Sitharaman moves on to the third issue: leadership and mismanagement

    Leadership was at the heart of the problem in UPA’s ghotala-driven years, she says, saying that Sonia Gandhi was the Super Prime Minister, an extra constitutional and unaccountable person. Why did 710 files go from the government to the NAC she asks, saying that it was unaccountable power. This is why one big ticket scam happened every year, she said. 

    We all respect PM Manmohan Singh, she says, noting that when Mr. Singh was travelling abroad, an ordinance was ripped up in a press conference by a Congress party leader. Is that not an insult to the country’s Prime Minister, she asks. This is the person who is lecturing about institutions, she says. Where was N. K Premchandran then, why didn’t he ask questions then, why is he asking them now, she asks. 

    Are laws brought by NAC acceptable to Mr. Premchandran, she asks. They can make laws from NAC, we can’t put a white paper as the government, she questions. 

    They keep saying they brought MNREGA, Aadhar, she says, adding that they always ask for credit. She says that these proposals were not acceptable to them then. She cites an Economic Times report that UIDAI parent Planning Commission was rejecting its Rs. 15,000 crore funding proposal.

    A parliamentary panel examining the legislation that gave UIDAI legitimacy, was dismissing the project as one “conceptualised with no clarity of purpose,” she says. At the time, several central ministries-- food, civil supplies and rural development and labour-- had reservations with real-time biometric authentication, she says. 

    “Connectivity is unreliable in rural areas, especially below Gram Panchayat level so I don’t see this changing for the next ten years”, their ministries said, now they say ‘aadhaar hamaara hai?’ she asks. We were the ones who implemented it, you rejected it, Ms. Sitharaman says. 

    She shares that Aadhaar and biometric authentication helped send money to beneficiaries directly even during COVID-19 pandemic, and Aadhar-authenticated DBT saved 2.7 lakh crores. This is leadership, she says. 

    Coming to the issue of black money and CBI/ED misuse cited by Opposition members, she says that between 2005 and 2014 only 102 PMLA prosecutions took place. The ED was kept as a caged bird, when we gave the ED independence to stop money laundering, over 1,200 cases were filed, with 58 convicted in ten years, she says, highlighting that this number was zero during their regime. 

    Restitution in their time was zero, while restitution in the 9 years up to 2022-23 is Rs. 16,233 crore, she says. There were 24 Red Corner notices passed in our tenure, while they passed zero, she says. They extradited zero persons, but we are bringing back four, she says. We recovered Rs. 906.74 crore from fugitive economic offenders, while they recovered zero, she shares. 

    -With inputs from Vikas Dhoot

  • February 09, 2024 19:07
    We balanced nature and progress: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    FM Nirmala Sitharaman moves on to environmental issues and the Jayanti Tax. 

    She says that in the Environment Ministry, the average delay in grant of clearances increased from 86 days to 316 days between 2011 to 2014. Environmental clearance papers would still not be secured, 350 files were pending with them, awaiting action, she says. 

    She asserts that this impacted ease of doing business. Cost of business went up, industrial growth was blocked, job opportunities were hurt and youth lost a lot, she says, adding that big-ticket projects like Vedanta were affected and the image of India as an investment destination went for a toss.

    She says that andolanjeevi and Bhrashtacharjeevi gave birth to the Jayanti Tax, comparing it to a jizya tax. They brought back license raj with Jayanti Tax, she says.

    We are balancing nature and progress ( prakriti and pragati), she says. We brought in transparency and an online system for clearances, as well as standardised impact assessment studies. 

    Namaste Ganga successfully arrested pollution in our river, she says. 

    Average time for clearance at the central level has been reduced to 70 days from 316 days., she shares. The forest cover has increased by 50,000 square kilometres, protected areas have risen to 998, and community reserves have grown from 43 to 220. Twelve beaches have gotten blue flag certification. 

    Globally, India stands fourth in renewable and wind power and fifth in solar power, she says, adding that Guwahati Railway Station is the first solar powered station in India. She said that the target of achieving 40% renewable capacity addition, set in COP 21, was fulfilled nine years ahead of time.

    -With inputs from Vikas Dhoot

  • February 09, 2024 18:59
    National security, defence ignored by UPA government: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    FM Nirmala Sitharaman says that she wishes to focus on three issues: how national security was compromised in those ten years, how environment as a ministry had become a bottleneck and the country’s developmental programmes suffered and finally, how the leadership failed the country.

    There was a critical shortage of ammunition and defence equipment in 2014, she says, adding that bulletproof jackets and night vision goggles were not available for our soldiers.

    She quotes A.K Antony, the Defence Minister of the time, as saying that a developed border is more dangerous than an undeveloped border, and that hence there was no development of airfields and roads on the border. 

    I can list out how much corruption used to happen in defence, she says, mentioning the Augusta Westland VVIP chopper scam. The CAG pulled up the Ministry of Defence for delay in buying artillery guns, she says, adding that the armed forces were ignored.

    Ms. Sitharaman says that we have doubled the defence budget in the last 10 years to Rs. 6.22 lakh crore in 2024-25. Defence capital budget increased from Rs. 86,000 crores to Rs. 1.72 lakh crores she shares, noting further that 75% of the capital acquisition is earmarked for domestic production. Defence corridors have been brought in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh she says. She says that launch of Innovation for Defence Excellence (IDEX) framework supports Indian MSMEs. FDI limit in defence production has been raised to 74%,while all ordinance factory boards have been converted into seven defence PSUs. 

    HAL’s new factory, inaugurated by PM Modi, is making modern Tejas aircraft, she said. We have given it business worth Rs. 4 lakh crore, including for helicopter production, she shares. When you spend properly on defence, no terrorist attack happens in the country, she says, sharing that left-wing extremism violence has declined by more 52% and that there has been a 72% decline in security forces deaths, and 68% decline in civillian deaths between 2014-2023.

    She says she is adding another issue to the mismanagement of defence by Congress. What were the MoUs signed in China in 2008, she questions. 

    - With inputs from Vikas Dhoot

  • February 09, 2024 18:45
    White paper not in national interest in 2015-2016: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    Responding to the question about the white paper, she says that PM Narendra Modi in 2015-16 said in a media interview: “There is a lot of suggestions coming that I should lay a White Paper on the condition of the economy. But I am not doing it because of national interest.”

    Because if the state of the economy would have come out then, not a single investor would have come and our own citizens would have asked what was going on, she says, adding that the big ticket scams in that tenure was one a year, so our own citizens would have lost faith because of the white paper.

    Now, we have had 10 years of sincere effort to clear up the economy, governance, and make sure that we are not going to stagnate because of the legacy that is left behind, she says, asserting that from the Fragile Five situation we have reached the Top 5 and we will soon become the third largest economy.

    We had 10 years which can therefore be periodically compared with those 10 years, she says. 

  • February 09, 2024 18:43
    White paper to inform about 10 years of governance and cleaning up of economy: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman commences her reply to the discussion on the government’s white paper. Looking at the way in which many members have spoken, I will try to answer some of the issues raised by them and also focus on some of the critical aspects of the white paper, she says. 

    She says that the white paper is a serious document with documentary evidence for everything that is said in it and prepared with the intention of informing the House. 

    The Finance Minister halts to object to members interrupting her speech. 

    The white paper is placed with an intent that the House will be informed of the 10 years of dedicated effort to get this government to work in such a way that the economy is back on the rails and also progress in such a way that our aspirations can be met, she says. The two rails on which we want the economy to move forward is to correct all the wrongdoings and remove the hurdles and misgovernance of the economy of the previous ten years and focus on reforms so as to move forward, she shares. 

    Documentary evidence has been given, Supreme Court verdicts have been quoted, CAG reports have been quoted, where deals that were cancelled by them have been mentioned, she shares, saying that it is surprising that N.K Premachandran is saying that the white paper is making baseless allegations. 

  • February 09, 2024 18:41
    Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day

    Proceedings will resume on Saturday at 11 a.m.

  • February 09, 2024 18:40
    Rajya Sabha passes the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024

    The Bill has been adopted through a voice vote.

  • February 09, 2024 18:36
    Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman replies to the discussion on the white paper on the economy in Lok Sabha
  • February 09, 2024 18:35
    White paper not bona fide, right time would have been in 2014-15: RSP MP N.K Premachandran

    RSP MP N.K Premachandan repeats his substitute motion, to disapprove the contents of the white paper on four grounds:

    The first one he cites: this is a political attempt to ignore the valuable efforts of the previous UPA government and the contributions of renowned economists and scientists and experts from 2004-2014. 

    In response to a question as to why his party withdrew support to the first UPA government, he said that they withdrew support over the nuclear issue. Now we are all part of the INDIA, he says. When asked about tussle on the ground in Kerala between left democratic parties and Congress, he says that they are coming together as a political strategy to keep BJP out of the Parliament. 

    The next ground he cites is that during the 10 years, the country witnessed growth of unemployment, inflation, price rise and increase in actual poverty. Shifting the blame on to previous government for the failures of this government is not proper, he says. 

    The last ground he cites is that the NDA’s 10 years in power have devastated the economy and agriculture sector, abetted crime against women and committed grave injustice to minorities. 

    This are the reasons by which I appeal to the House to disapprove the motion for approving the white paper, he says. 

    If you are very hopeful and confident about the political and economic situation, what are the things to be disclosed to the public by means of this white paper, he asks. The right time to bring the white paper would have been in 2014-2015, instead in bringing it after 10 years in office, against a government in power 10 years ago, he says. 

    You are apprehensive about the ground realities which are against the rosy picture painted in the budget speech, he asserts. You are worried about the assurances and guarantees given in 2014, such as 15 lakhs in every account, 2 crore jobs, water for all, electricity for all, he says.

  • February 09, 2024 18:13
    Granary of concoctions and mountain of lies: INC MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on white paper

    INC MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says that the intent and purpose of bringing this kind of white paper is not convincing. It is a granary of concoctions and mountain of lies, he says. 

    At the fag end of the session, this kind of white paper only with the objective to tarnish the 10 years of UPA government, does not cut ice and is nothing but an electoral manifesto to win electoral brownie points, he says. 

    What is the point of insulting Nehru and the family, they aren’t there in this world anymore, he asks. What tradition are we adopting, he asks. Indira Gandhi died in the service of the nation, I’ll be proud of it, because I’m sure that every drop of blood will contribute to the growth of the nation, he says. What is wrong in that, he asks. 

    Mr. Chowdhury shares various achievements under the UPA regime, asking about who brought in the Panchayati Raj, instituted IITs and IIMs, and highlighting other schemes started by the Congress. 

    He responds to allegations of scams by Congress, highlighting the loan default by Vijay Mallya and scams pertaining to Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Jatin Mehta. 

  • February 09, 2024 18:01
    BJP members raise mismanagement, corruption issues during UPA regime

    Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal, BJP MP from Bihar, speaks about the various scams which happened during the UPA regime.

    Independent member Navneet Ravi Rana says that people are afraid to engage in corruption during the current regime. She says that we cannot just move on, the youth want to address issues. 

    BJP MP Ramesh Bhiduri says that Mughals, British and then the Congress looted the country. There was Rs. 60 crores loot in 60 years, he says. 

  • February 09, 2024 17:55
    Rajya Sabha: The Bill is much needed but has come at a very late stage, says INC MP Amee Yajink

    The last ten years have seen a “spate of paper leaks, almost about 1.5 crore students have suffered,” Dr. Yajnik says.

    The NDA government rides on the wave of digitalisation, and they should have made corresponding arrangements and platforms to see that these menaces are curbed, she says.

    She also raises concerns about the methods of investigation into unfair practices mentioned in the Bill. “One of the clauses says that the DSP is given the duty to investigate, but police stations are flooded with investigations of murders, dowry deaths, etc,” Dr. Yajnik says. She also suggests that this offence should be looked at as specialised offences and a regulatory authority should be appointed to conduct these investigations.

  • February 09, 2024 17:50
    BJP does not have strength to take on any party, misusing CBI and ED: JMM MP Vijay Kumar Hansdak

    JMM MP Vijay Kumar Hansdak, who hails from Jharkhand, says that the government should admit that they have failed on multiple fronts. He also questions how they are becoming corruption-free, pointing to misuse of the ED and CBI and saying that they don’t have enough strength to fight any party head-on. 

  • February 09, 2024 17:47
    Youth looking to Modi as role model: BJP MP Sunita Duggal

    BJP MP Sunita Duggal says that youth are looking up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a role model. Bharat Sankalp Yatra has attempted to saturate at every level, she says. 

    She concludes her speech with a cheer of ‘ab ki baar, 400 paar.’

  • February 09, 2024 17:41
    Not a white paper, politically coloured paper: NCP MP Supriya Sule

    NCP MP Supriya Sule expresses disappointment in the white paper, saying that it usually covers an issue in-depth. What is usually expected is information about nature and scope of a problem and possible ways to resolve it, but there was nothing but allegations about the previous government, she says.

    It is not a white paper, it is a politically coloured paper, she says, also calling it a comparison paper. 

    The government wanted to created a cashless economy but there are two ticking bombs in the form of GPay and Paytm, she says. She also highlights that there is not enough adoption of the BHIM UPI system. How is the government planning to intervene, she asks. 

  • February 09, 2024 17:34
    Issues of State of Odisha ignored by both regimes, pay attention to them: BJD MP Anubhav Mohanty

    Dr. DNV Senthilkumar S., DMK MP from Dharmapuri, calls the white paper “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” He asks why instead of focusing on the achievements of their government, the Centre is talking about Nehru and Congress. 

    BJD MP Anubhav Mohanty highlights the various issues the State of Odisha has faced under both regimes, including not receiving coal cess, non-allocation of funds for coal, neglect of the poor and non-allotment of houses, not paying Fasal Bima to small farmers, poor rail connectivity and non-increase of tele-density, among others. He points out that Odisha’s tele-density in March 2023 was among the bottom five of all States. He highlights that funds have not been given to improve sports and road infrastructure as well.

  • February 09, 2024 17:28
    Centre should have zero tolerance of corruption: TDP MP K Ram Mohan Naidu

    K Ram Mohan Naidu, TDP MP from Srikakulam, says that the greatest amount of corruption happened in Andhra Pradesh between 2004-2014, obliquely highlighting the corruption of the current Chief Minister as well. They should also mention State-related matters in the white paper, he says. He highlights that there is a high level of illegal liquor trade and sand mining. They should have zero-tolerance about people who are corrupt, he says. 

    Why not include Visakhapatnam Steel Plant under SAIL, he also asks. 

  • February 09, 2024 17:26
    Rajya Sabha: NEET has become a booming business for coaching centres, says DMK MP P. Wilson

    These coaching centres capitalise on students dreaming to become doctors, which only affluent people can afford, Mr. Wilson says as he questions why professional courses require entrance exams when students have already qualified board exams. “Competitive exams can be conducted for recruitment, [but] there is no need for holding entrance examinations so far as professional courses are concerned,” he says.

    “Examination is quite different from education, but in the name of raising the standard of education, they are making the examination so impossible and so severe that the backward communities, which have hitherto not had the chance of entering the portals of university, are absolutely kept out,” he says, quoting Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

  • February 09, 2024 17:22
    Put out white paper about how many Muslims have been lynched since 2014: AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi

    Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM MP from Hyderabad, says that he is on the ‘line of action’ of Indian politics. He raises certain questions for the Finance Minister.

    The GDP growth during UPA was 6.8% on average, during Modi’s government it is 5.9% on average, tell us if China is responsible or Pakistan, he says. He further says that the fiscal deficit as percentage of GDP was 4.7% during UPA regime, and under Modi government, it is 5.1% and asks who is responsible for that.

    He says that the inflation during the UPA government was 8% and now it is 5%, but asserts that since global oil prices have fallen, this government can’t take credit for this.

    He further asks why Modi has not gotten the Unemployment Survey done since 2011. “Why is he hiding data,” he says. Similarly, he highlights that PLF survey and consumption survey happened in 2018 and 2017 and not since then. 

    Health expenditure from pocket was 69% in 2005 and is 64.2% in 2014, what is your number, he asks. At least give us 2020 data, he says. 

    “This white paper is more rhetoric than substance,” he says, also highlighting that there is no mention of demonetisation, which he notes as having destroyed the poor.

    He asks the government to put out a white paper detailing how many Muslims have been killed due to mob lynching between 2014 and 2024, and how many houses have been broken by bulldozers. He tells the government to put out another white paper about whether China has occupied 2000 sq km of Indian territory or not. 

  • February 09, 2024 17:14
    Rajya Sabha: AITC MP Abir Ranjan Biswas supports the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024

    “We all are against unfair means, because this is a thing which essentially harms the future of the youth of the country,” Mr. Biswas says.

    The problem of using unfair means has become endemic, the MP adds. “The Bill is very appropriate and on-time, and we all should be on board with it.”

  • February 09, 2024 17:01
    Rajya Sabha discusses Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024

    Union Minister Jitendra Singh said examination malpractice is a recent phenomenon, and the Bill has “huge stakes for the youth of the country”.

    INC member Digvijay Singh recommends amendments to the Bill, including blacklisting errant companies indefinitely and conducting offline examinations instead of online tests to eliminate the scope for malpractice. Moreover, once offenders have been caught, decision on the examination’s future dates should be taken immediately. 

  • February 09, 2024 16:58
    ‘AAP is destroying Punjab’: Badal

    Lashing out at the Congress and AAP, Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal claims that its her state Punjab which suffers irrespective who is in power, while speaking on the white paper on Indian economy. 

    “Neither Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, it is only Punjab which gave AAP a chance electing them to power. While Congress was corrupt, it is AAP which is drowning Punjab. In the past two years, this Kejriwal-Bhagwant Mann government has taken Rs 3.4 lakh crore in debt in comparison to Rs 1 lakh crore in debt in Congress’ five years,” she laments. Seeking Centre intervention, she says, “Arrest Kejriwal if you want, please save my Punjab”.

  • February 09, 2024 16:50
    ‘INDI alliance will be left alone’: Sinha

    BJP MP Jayant Sinha counters Congress’ claims on the failure of Modi govt’s economic policies in the discussion on white paper tabled in Lok Sabha.

    Highlighting the success of bankruptcy code, GST collection, rise in Foreign direct investment, strengthened markets (Sensex and Nifty), GDP rise, Mr. Sinha affirms that the world trusts Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hence the Indian economy is booming ahead of his third term. He concludes that INDI alliance is alone while everyone is joining the NDA as it works for the ‘developed India’.

  • February 09, 2024 16:47
    Rajya Sabha takes up Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024

    Union Minister Jitendra Singh moved the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 in the Rajya Sabha for consideration and passage. It was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this week.

    The Bill seeks to check malpractices and organised cheating in government recruitment exams. The bill proposes a minimum of three years imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹1 crore.

  • February 09, 2024 16:45
    J&K SC, ST reservation Bills passed in Rajya Sabha

    The Upper House has also passed, via voice vote, the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024 and the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, to add Pahari Ethnic Group, and other communities to ST list and Valmikis to the SC list in the union territory. 

    Both Bills, cleared by Lok Sabha earlier, were passed in the Upper House with support from across party lines. 

  • February 09, 2024 16:42
    Rajya Sabha passes J&K Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024

    The Upper House has passed the Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024 via voice vote. 

    The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this week.

  • February 09, 2024 16:34
    Arjun Munda replies to SC, ST reservation Bills discussion in Rajya Sabha

    Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda, who introduced the SC and ST reservation Bills, replies to the discussion in the Upper House. Just like the Ayodhya temple inauguration brought Ram Lalla to his birthplace, Article 370 abrogation brought justice to the people of J&K, he says, inviting protests from Opposition members.

    “The reservation policies will be applied from Kashmir to Kanyakumari,” Mr. Munda says. Amid ongoing protests from existing STs in J&K against the additions, Mr. Munda said the Bill “will ensure that the reservation already available for these existing tribes will be maintained while giving these new communities additional reservation.” Instead, the Gadda Brahman, Koli and Paddari communities will be added to the ST list to access benefits. Among other government schemes, the Forest Rights Act will be made applicable to locals in the region. 

  • February 09, 2024 16:20
    ‘We don’t do vote bank politics’: Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Virendra Kumar

    Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Virendra Kumar is responding to discussions on the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024. These Bills would give people access to schemes of both State and Central Governments, in addition to new employment opportunities, Mr. Kumar said. 

    Mr. Kumar lists a host of welfare benefits people from the Valmiki community in J&K would be eligible for if the reservation Bills are passed. Among other things, these include property rights; admission to medical, engineering and technical courses in colleges; international scholarships; voting in Vidhan Sabha elections. Congress MPs ask us what we’re doing for OBCs, SCs and STs, but what did the Congress Government do for them during its 60 years, Mr. Kumar asked. 

    To Jawhar Sircar’s point about excluding Muslims and Christian SCs and STs not getting reservation, Mr. Kumar says that government schemes apply to all sections of society. But anyone who converts from Hindu or Sikh religion will not be eligible for reservation because untouchability is found only among Hindus, Mr. Kumar says.

    He also mentions the Namaste scheme, which aims to eradicate unsafe sewer and septic tank cleaning practices, as a measure to uplift SCs and STs throughout India and in J&K. Manual scavenging has ended from society, and the Namaste scheme offers subsidies and encourages using machines for sewage cleaning. Opposition ministers raised objections in the background. 

  • February 09, 2024 16:02
    ‘Diluted UPA era laws’: IUML

    IUML MP ET Mohd. Basheer slams the Modi govt for diluting UPA era laws like RTI, Aadhaar nad MNREGA. Speaking on the white paper tabled by the Indian economy, he highlights the poor rankings on global indices on press freedom, women security, religious tolerance, inclusivity, unemployment, hunger, internet shutdowns.

  • February 09, 2024 15:57
    Rajya Sabha: Nityanand Rai replies to J&K reservation Bill criticism

    Opposition members claimed the government has neglected ST, SC and OBC interests in the rest of the country. MoS Home Affairs Nityanand Rai responds to these claims by listing different measures the Modi Government has taken to uplift reserved classes in education, employment and government institutes. These include reservations for OBCs in medical seats, IITs, and reduced tuition fees for OBC candidates. “Whenever there has been a Commission, their recommendations were never implemented by the Congress government. PM Modi has given rights and justice to OBCs,” Mr. Rai said.

    The Opposition is “diverting” attention from the Bills, Mr. Rai said. About Article 370 abrogation, he said “there is no substance or truth to it” and Modi Government’s decision has only connected Kashmir with the rest of India. Mr. Rai mentions advancements in renewable energy, infrastructural projects and investments. There is a “zero tolerance to terrorism”, Mr. Rai says, while citing data about declining security deaths and deaths due to stone pelting. 

  • February 09, 2024 15:44
    ‘Rahul Gandhi was able to give a speech at Laal Chowk only after Article 370 abrogation’

    BJP MP Shambhu Sharan Patel in the Upper House responded to Opposition criticism about the Article 370 abrogation. “Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo yatra was able to give a speech at Laal Chowk, only after abrogation happened,” Mr. Patel said. Before that, did he or any Congress leader have the courage to go to there, he asked, adding that Congress has always been “anti-poor and anti-Dalit”. The Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024 will allow them to contest local elections and advocate for themselves, he says.

    Mr. Patel, while listing other measures to uplift OBCs and EBCs, mentioned the Justice G. Rohini-headed Commission report for the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) caste groups. The Commission submitted its report last year, nearly six years after the Union government first assigned the task to it. Read more here.

  • February 09, 2024 15:29
    Rajya Sabha: Discussion continues on the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024

    To recap: the Upper House is discussing the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this week. Read more about the legislation, and why the Gujjar-Bakarwal community is opposing it here.

  • February 09, 2024 15:28
    ‘Congress did not recognise PV Narasimha Rao’s achievements’: RSP

    BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad slams the Opposition for making the debate on the white paper political, while speaking in the Lok Sabha. 

    “You claim that we have brought this white paper to defame you. Why do we need to do that? In 2014, 2019 people rejected you and now in 2024 we are getting 400+ seats,” he says adding, “While we debate the Indian economy, today the Modi govt has awarded late PM PV Narasimha Rao with the Bharat Ratna - a Congress PM, party chief, who revived the economy. They did not even allow his body to be laid at Congress headquarters”.

    Listing Congress government laws like Aadhaar, RTI, GST, MNREGA, he claims it was the Modi government which implemented it well and got it constitutional status. He assures that none of the corrupt politicians will be left scot-free irrespective of whether they are in BJP or not.

    Talking about Adani, he points out that the group has done business with Rajasthan, Kerala or West Bengal where the Congress or its allies are in power. “Why did Rahul Gandhi not stop these deals then? Will he remove them from their alliance?,” asks Mr. Prasad

  • February 09, 2024 15:23
    Rajya Sabha: ‘Is an ST in J&K different from an ST in Jharkhand?’

    BJP MP Rakesh Sinha spoke in favour of the J&K reservation Bills in the Upper House. No committee or report, including the Mandal Commission findings, have implemented reservation policies in the region. “Is an ST in J&K different from an ST in Jharkhand? Is an OBC there different from Uttar Pradesh?” he asked. 

    The minister hailed Article 370 abrogation for ensuring people marginalised, due to their identities, birth or social conditions, get their due. He cited NFHS data to show out of 129 indicators, India’s Scheduled Casts have witnessed a “radical transformation” in 48 of them. Baramulla and Shopian, once hubs of terrorism, are now sites of development. Where there was once a river of blood, now rivers of milk flow, Mr. Sinha says.

    MPs Ramilaben Becharbhai Bara and Sumitra Balmik also expressed their support. Ms. Balmik said as someone from the Valmiki community, “I have come to the parliament due to PM Modi”. The Article 370 abrogation gave the “Valmiki community a right to live and be freed them from exploitation”, she added.

  • February 09, 2024 15:03
    ‘Not even BJP MPs believe your white paper’: Gogoi

    Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi claims that even BJP MPs do not believe the white paper tabled by the government, highlighting the exit of MPs, reducing Lok Sabha’s quorum. Listing several new entrants in BJP, Shiv Sena and NCP from other political parties, Mr. Gogoi says many corrupt politicians have joined BJP and all cases on them disappear. 

    “They have opened an ‘aashram’ to shield all these corrupt people. We waived off Rs 70,000 crore loans of farmers and they induct a person who has allegedly committed Rs 70,000 irrigation scam. BJP is using ED as a weapon to shut Opposition voices and allow them to join BJP,” said Mr. Gogoi. He also highlights the ease at which the Adani group gets all government projects and loans from national banks, questioning how the BJP claims to be against corruption.

  • February 09, 2024 15:00
    BJP issues three-line whip to MPs in both Houses to be present on February 10
  • February 09, 2024 14:54
    J&K reservation Bill an attempt to ‘divide and rule’, says Jawhar Sircar

    In the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, Jawhar Sircar of AITC said only selective Muslim tribes have been brought into the Order, but Muslims are debarred from large in availing SC and ST facilities. “This is a divide and rule [policy],” he said. Moreover, the government has made outreach efforts to Gujjars-Bakarwals, but what about the recent victims of a firing on civilians, who hailed from the two communities?

    “Politics of caste and tribe a colonial hangover,” said Mr. Sircar. “Why do you perpetuate it?...You burned [Adivasis and tribals] when they were Hindus, you boiled them now that they have left Hinduism.” On a national level, Mr. Sircar argued the reservation policy is being diluted on a national level. The UGC tried to pass the de-reservation order on SCs and STc order in education, tomorrow it will extend to employment, he remarked, adding that “De-reservation is a crime, it should not be touched.”

    On a similar note, MP A.A. Rahim said the Central Government’s delimitation exercise in 2022 is another example of divisive policies. “They moved Jammu into a Hindu-majority constituency,” he says. Mr. Rahim noted that six seats were given to Jammu and one seat to Kashmir, meaning 44% of Jammu’s population is getting 48% of the seats. The Union Government is running away from State Assembly elections, despite the SC directing the Election Commission to hold Assembly elections by September 30, 2024.

  • February 09, 2024 14:50
    Quorum is not present in Lok Sabha, stops proceedings

    As YSRCP MP Vanga Geethaviswanath starts her speech, several MPs exit the House, diminishing the strength and a quorum is not present. Chairman Dr. Kirit Solanki instructs the MP to stop her speech, instructing MPs to return to the House. After a quorum is present, she continues to speak in support of the white paper tabled by the government.

  • February 09, 2024 14:45
    ‘L-G’s governance of J&K similar to colonial rule’, says MP in Rajya Sabha

    The Upper House briefly witnessed a ruckus with INC MP Neeraj Dangi’s speech. Among other things, Mr. Dangi said the state body elections must be convened at the earliest, and the current governance through a Lieutenant Governor is reminiscent of the colonial system. 

    Mr. Dangi also mentioned the ongoing protests in Ladakh and their demands for inclusion in the Sixth Schedule. Moreover, if everything is fine in J&K and there is peace, then why is the government padding up security and giving it reservation measures, he asked. He cited NCRB data about violence against SC and ST communities. For reservation Bills, he further asked, “How do we make policies without data on reserved categories?”

    To some opposition, Mr. Dangi said amendments such as the current one “will not bring about progress for SCs and STs”. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar interrupted to say, “to be forceful, you don’t have to raise the decibel”. 

  • February 09, 2024 14:33
    ‘No skilled economist in Modi cabinet’: Ray

    TMC MP Prof. Sougata Ray claims that the BJP government has no economists in its cabinet hence it botched up reforms like GST, bankruptcy code. He adds that the paper failed to highlight the rising unemployment, farmer suicides and low participation of women in workforce. Naming industrialists like Adani and Ambani, Mr. Ray says they are close to Mr. Modi and cannot compete globally. 

    “India is the poorest among BRICS nations. Why can’t India grow as per its potential? Per capita income is low. GDP is growing but only for a few rich families. Why are we behind China? The govt has no answer for the wealth disparity between the poor and rich,” says Mr. Ray. 

  • February 09, 2024 14:30
    RS Deputy Chairman urges ministers to discuss only J&K reservation Bills, not Article 370

    Aditya Prasad of BJP, in favour of the Bill, said people in J&K will get their rights once this Bill is passed. They should not be faulted for the Congress government’s delay in implementing education and job reservation, Mr. Prasad said, adding the Congress government was guilty of dereliction of their duties. It was only in 2014 when Narendra Modi, as a person of an OBC became the Prime Minister, that he worked to give respect and welfare to India’s marginalised communities. 

    Deputy Chairman Shri Harivansh again objected that the discussions should be limited to the three Bills, “not Article 370, which has been settled”.

  • February 09, 2024 14:24
    Rajya Sabha: ‘Where is the data on OBC reservation?’

    Speaking about the Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024, MP Sandosh Kumar P. highlighted the need for an elected state assembly in J&K. Regarding the two other reservation Bills, he said, “We all support an OBC reservation. But where is data available?” India skipped its 2021 census, and the last census happened more than a decade ago, “on what basis is the government saying the Bill will help OBC?” he asked. The minister also demanded a caste census be conducted nationally.

  • February 09, 2024 14:19
    ‘Is the government aware of the massive shutdown in Ladakh?’: John Brittas

    CPI(M) MP John Brittas critiqued the proposed three Bills, saying that the government has said J&K’s statehood would be restored, albeit without a timeline. Moreover, “is the government aware of the massive shutdown in Ladakh? [People] are urging the government to give statehood...this is nothing across party lines, religion...their position in the erstwhile J&K was better than the current status.,” he said. 

    Mr. Brittas questioned two clauses. One pertains to the salary allowance of the disqualification of a retired election commissioner; the removal of a subclause here would make the election commissioner “pliable” to the wants of the government. The other talks about disqualifying voters of “unsound mind” based on “other grounds” decided by the Election Commission. 

    Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha requested ministers to confine arguments to the three Bills.

  • February 09, 2024 14:15
    ‘Demonetisation not in white paper’: DMK

    DMK MP Dr. Veeraswamy Kalanidhi questions why the effect of demonetisation is not being highlighted in the white paper tabled by the Finance Minister. Talking about the rising prices of petrol and diesel, Mr. Kalanidhi questions why the prices were not reduced when oil prices fell during lockdown opting for imposing windfall tax instead. Terming the ‘Modi guarantees’ as a political gimmick, he said that the government had already failed to fulfill its previous promises. 

    The Lok Sabha is discussing the white paper on the Indian economy tabled by Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman.

  • February 09, 2024 13:51
    BJP’s Laxmikant Bajpai issues whip to party MPs to be present in RS on Feb. 10

    BJP’s Laxmikant Bajpai on Friday issued a three-line whip to party MPs to be present in the Rajya Sabha on February 10 to support the government’s stand. 

  • February 09, 2024 13:24
    Discussion on The Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024

    The Statement of Objects and Reasons of The Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024 said the legislation aims to provide reservation to OBCs in the local bodies and bring consistency in the laws with the provisions of the Constitution. 

    Presently, there is no reservation for OBCs in panchayats and municipalities in the Union Territory. Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai introduced the Bill on Friday. 

    The Bill seeks to amend certain provisions of the J&K Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, the J&K Municipal Act, 2000 and the J&K Municipal Corporation Act, 2000 in consonance with the provisions of Part IX and Part IXA of the Constitution.

  • February 09, 2024 13:16
    Rajya Sabha moves Constitution J&K Scheduled Tribes Order Bill, J&K Local Bodies Laws Bill, Constitution J&K Scheduled Castes Order Bill
  • February 09, 2024 13:09
    Chairman announces government decision to give Bharat Ratna to Charan Singh, P.V. Narasimha Rao, M.S. Swaminathan

    Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar announced in Rajya Sabha, the government’s decision to give the Bharat Ratna to former Prime Ministers Chaudhary Charan Singh and P.V. Narasimha Rao and agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan. 

    Mr. Dhankhar said it’s an honour to announce the prestigious award to the aforementioned personalities for their contributions to the respective fields. 

    “It’s a matter of satisfaction and joy for every Indian,” Mr. Dhankhar added. 

    The government had earlier announced the Bharat Ratna for L.K. Advani and Karpoori Thakur. 

  • February 09, 2024 12:53
    ‘Not a White Paper, but a black brush... a political manifesto’: Congress MP Manish Tewari

    Speaking during a discussion on the ‘White Paper’ in Lok Sabha, Congress’s Manish Toward slammed the Centre, terming the document a “black brush”. “This is a political manifesto, not a White Paper,” the MP said.

    “Why didn’t the NDA government bring out a ‘White Paper’ in 2014? Why did it wait for 10 years?” Mr. Tewari asked.

  • February 09, 2024 12:41
    NDA turned coal into diamonds: FM in Lok Sabha

    During a discussion on the ‘White Paper’ on the economy, the Finance Minister said,” India suffered a huge loss because of the coal scam under the UPA rule. We turned coal into ash, we turned it into diamond with our policies.”

  • February 09, 2024 12:34
    We should reach consensus to make internet safer: IT Minister Vaishnaw

    Responding to a question by RS MP Jaya Bachchan (SP), Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw said we are dependent on the internet for everything, from banking to shopping to social media. 

    “We are amending the intermediary rules to detect deepfakes, and misinformation and take action,” he said. 

    Many platforms have moderation technologies to ensure safety. Today, the entire world is reaching a consensus to push for social media platforms to take responsibility for whatever they publish, and we, as the House also need to reach a consensus to make sure we take proper action,” the Minister said. 

    There is an institutional framework for IT rules, and we are making sure the internet is safe and secure for all its users, Mr. Vaishnaw added. 

  • February 09, 2024 12:20
    ‘Factual record for posterity’: Nirmala Sitharaman begins discussion on ‘White Paper’

    In her opening remarks during the discussion on the ‘White Paper on the Indian Economy and its impact on the lives of people of India’ in Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister said the paper is laid with responsibility so that the records have the factual information on the economy and that record shall be a record for posterity…for entire India’s youth so that they know what effort it took for a PM with a vision to restore India to its glory. 

    “The UPA lacked neeyat and niyam [intention and adherence to rules] . You left the economy in critical state. It was under the leadership of Narendra Modi that the situation improved and now the country is well-respected across the globe,” Ms. Sitharaman said.

    “This is a serious document dealing with serious issues. It must be taken seriously. They will not be be able to silence my voice today...” the Minister amid Opposition uproar. 

  • February 09, 2024 12:13
    Nirmala Sitharaman tables motion on ‘White Paper’ in Lok Sabha

    While the Finance Minister tabled a motion on ‘White Paper’ in the Lower House, Kerala MP N K Premachandran moved a substitute motion against the document, says allegations after 10 years against UPA is unfair. AITC Saugata Ray also moved a substitute motion against the White Paper. 

  • February 09, 2024 12:13
    Bangladesh Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud attends RS proceedings

    Bangladesh Foreign Minister who is on his first visit abroad after taking charge as the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh is attending Parliament proceedings in Rajya Sabha. 

    Chairman Dhankhar welcomed Mr. Mahmud by extending the greetings on behalf of the Members of the House. 

    Mr. Mahmud is paying an official visit to India from February 7 to February 9. This is Mr. Mahmud’s first official visit to India, and his first bilateral visit to any country, after assuming office as the new Foreign Minister of Bangladesh in January 2024.

  • February 09, 2024 12:04
    Question Hour begins in Rajya Sabha
  • February 09, 2024 12:01
    Question Hour concludes in Lok Sabha

    Papers are being laid on the table of the House, as per list of business.

  • February 09, 2024 11:55
    RS MPs call for crackdown on drug use in India

    Speaking on the issue of drug addiction in the country, MPs Vikramjit Singh Sahney (AAP) and Naresh Bansal (BJP) said the problem of drug addiction among youth is on the rise in the country. 

    While Mr. Bansal spoke about the harsh impacts of substance abuse in Uttarakhand, Mr. Sahney said it’s one of the major problems in Punjab. 

    Unemployment and easy availability of money are contributing to the rise in drug addiction, they said. Subsequently, they called on the government to address the issue. 

  • February 09, 2024 11:49
    ‘White Paper’ an attempt to divert attention from PM Modi’s failed promises: Gaurav Gogoi

  • February 09, 2024 11:41
    Establish NCCR in Odisha: BJD MP Sujeet Kumar

    Speaking in the Upper House of the Parliament, Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Sujeet Kumar requested the central government to establish a branch of the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) in Odisha. 

    The research institute that comes under the Ministry of Earth Sciences is currently housed in Chennai. 

    Mr. Kumar, outlining the impact of climate change on the coast of Odisha, said it’s important to have the centre on the west coast of the country as well. 

  • February 09, 2024 11:28
    ‘Selective amnesia basic character of paper’: John Brittas slams government’s ‘White Paper’ on UPA

    The CPI(M) MP said the government brought the paper with eyes on the Lok Sabha elections. “Have you ever seen a government waiting for 10 years to discuss about a regime that was there a decade back. It’s for the election purpose. Selective amnesia and cherry picking are the basic characters of this white paper,” the MP was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

  • February 09, 2024 11:22
    Our languages make India: RS Chairman Dhankhar

    Continuing the discussion on the language imposition, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said our diverse languages in the country make India what it is. Our languages have depth, literature, and history, he says. 

    “We need to respect all Indian languages,” he says. 

    Mr. Dhankhar calls on the Members to maintain decorum as they try to enter the well of the House. 

  • February 09, 2024 11:16
    Hindi not our national language: AITC MP Saket Gokhale

    Raising the issue of Meghalaya Governor addressing the State Assembly in Hindi, AITC MP Saket Gokhale said Hindi is being imposed on the people of the State. 

    Speaking in the Upper House of the Parliament, he maintained that English is the spoken language in Meghalaya. “The imposition of Hindi on the citizens of the country is an affront to the federal structure of the Constitution,” Mr. Gokhale said. 

    English is the preferred language in the Meghalaya Assembly and the Garo and Khasi languages, though notified, are used rarely. 

  • February 09, 2024 11:13
    Finance Minister to move motion on ‘White Paper on Indian Economy’ in Lok Sabha today

    As per the revised list of business, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will move a motion for the House to consider the ‘White Paper on the Indian Economy and its impact on lives of the people of India’, in the Lower House later in the day under Rule 342.

  • February 09, 2024 11:02
    Lok Sabha commences

    The Speaker commenced the proceedings of the day with obituary references to former Lok Sabha MPs Harmohan Dhawan and Rubab Sayeda. Subsequently, the House took up Question Hour.

  • February 09, 2024 11:01
    Papers are being laid on the table in the Rajya Sabha
  • February 09, 2024 11:00
    Rajya Sabha proceedings begin
  • February 09, 2024 10:48
    List of Business in Rajya Sabha

    1. Question Hour

    2. Private Members’ Business

    3. Four Bills are listed for consideration and passing: Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, J&K Local Bodies Laws (A) Bill, 2024, Constitution J&K Scheduled Tribes Order (A) Bill, 2023 and Constitution J&K Scheduled Castes Order (A) Bill, 2023. 

  • February 09, 2024 10:46
    List of Business in Lok Sabha

    1. Question Hour

    2. Consideration of any item of government business entered in the revised list of business for February 8, 2024, and not concluded on that day.

    4. Private Members’ Business

    5. The White Paper on the Indian Economy, presented by the Finance Minister yesterday, is scheduled to be discussed in Lok Sabha. 

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