Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday responded to the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and said that she had been called the “worst minister” even before completing six months in office, adding that she was still open to every criticism.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey tried to assuage his fellow parliamentarians’ concerns about the state of the economy, saying the Gross Domestic Product came into being in 1934 and would lose its importance with time. “Measures of sustainable development and happiness are more important than GDP,” he said. Figures released last week showed India’s GDP growth has fallen to a six-year low.
Rajya Sabha member and Samajwadi Party leader Jaya Bachchan called for strict punishment for rapists and said they must be lynched in public. Members from several parties raised last week’s murder and alleged rape of a veterinary surgeon near Hyderabad in both houses of Parliament. Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said political will was the need of the hour.
Here are the day’s updates from the two Houses:
7.35 pm: Lok Sabha passes the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The legislation provides domestic companies with lower tax rate options, if they do not claim certain deductions. It also amends certain provisions regarding levy of surcharge on capital gains.
7.30 pm: In the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman says the Centre has periodically provided relief to individual taxpayers. “But now we want more investments, so we have reduced corporate tax,” she says, according to The Hindu.
7.23 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman criticises Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for his “Nirbala” remark earlier in the day. “Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, two women have become Cabinet ministers,” she says, according to The Indian Express. A woman was given the defence portfolio...So, I would like to say I am Nirmala, will remain Nirmala... I want to put an end to Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s concerns about whether I should be called Nirmala or ‘Nirbala’. I would like to clarify all women in our party are ‘sabala’ [strong].”
6.59 pm: Rajya Sabha passes the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture,Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019. The legislation prohibits the production, trade, storage, and advertisement of electronic cigarettes.
It replaces an ordinance promulgated in September.
6.55 pm: Sitharaman compares the Gross Domestic Product in the second term of the United Progressive Alliance administration with the National Democratic Alliance government. “GDP goes up and comes down,” she says.
India’s Gross Domestic Product had contracted to 4.5% in the July-September quarter – the slowest growth rate in more than six years, and the sixth straight quarter of slowdown.
6.52 pm: Sitharaman says the Centre has managed to keep the fiscal deficit in place within 4%. On the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the finance minister says that the previous Congress government had signed the Bali agreement, reports The Hindu.
6.48 pm: The finance minister lists out the ordinances passed under the previous governments as Congress members protest. “Why take ordinance route? We didn’t [we] want to wait for eight months for reforms to take place,” she asks.
6.45 pm: Nirmala Sitharaman says the government invites and wants to respond to criticism, according to The Hindu. “We are a proactive government,” she says. “I have met many people, many have said I am the worst finance minister, even before I completed six months of work, I hear them out. I am willing to hear more.”
5.16 pm: The parliamentary standing committee on information technology has sought the public’s suggestions about the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, reports News18. The committee has also urged experts and stakeholders to provide inputs. The bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in February. It seeks to amend the Cinematograph Act, and impose strict penalties to combat film piracy.
5.11 pm: Telugu Desam Party MP Jayadev Galla says the government’s move to sell some public sector units to recover from fiscal deficit is a wrong step. “By doing this, a time will come when there will be no PSUs to sell,” The Indian Express quotes him as saying. The government should put more cash in the hands of people, and provide individual tax relief.
5.09 pm: Supriya Sule asks why people are choosing to become NRIs “if the conditions are so good in our country”, reports The Indian Express. Good leadership means taking criticisms positively and working on them, she adds.
5.07 pm: Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule addresses the Lok Sabha. “Sitharaman’s measures [to revive the economy] are reactive, they should be proactive,” The Indian Express quotes her as saying. “But better late than never.”
4.51 pm: BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has urged his fellow parliamentarians not to look up to Gross Domestic Product “as Bible, Ramayana or Mahabharata”, reports ANI. “The concept of GDP came into being in 1934,” Dubey said in the Lok Sabha earlier in the afternoon. “GDP will lose its importance with time. Measures of sustainable development and happiness are more important than GDP.”
4.44 pm: Mahua Moitra, who represents Krishnanagar in Parliament, advises the Modi government to apply the corporate tax rate reduction to all entities. “It should not apply to just the companies, it should apply to LLPs, partnership firms, and other non-corporate entities also,” ANI quotes her as saying.
4.41 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra says the corporate tax cut proposed by the Narendra Modi government “only helps the profitable become more profitable” and does not do anything to “revive a very large part” of the struggling economy, reports ANI.
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha that the tax cut was intended to attract investment and create jobs. She made the remark while moving the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, for consideration and passage.
3.21 pm: Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury urges the finance minister to talk to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about fixing the economy. “We should not be ashamed of learning something from somebody,” he says, according to The Indian Express. “Please talk to Manmohan Singh, and discuss the matter with him. If you want to save the country, you will have to talk to Manmohan Singh.”
He says, “Our finance minister does not have any long-term vision, mission and perspective.”
3.09 pm: “I do have respect for you but sometimes I wonder if I should call you ‘Nirbala’ [powerless] instead of Nirmala Sitharaman,” says Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in Lok Sabha, according to ANI. “You are a Union minister but I wonder if you are able to say what you want.”
He makes the remark during a discussion on the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
2.15 pm: Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy speaks about rape and murder of the 27-year-old woman in Hyderabad. “Central government is ready to extend all help to the state for speedy justice in the case,” he tells reporters.
1.40 pm: Lok Sabha adjourned till 2.15 pm after uproar over Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s remarks on the NRC, PTI reports.
The BJP and Congress had traded barbs over Chowdhury’s remarks. Union minister Pralhad Joshi brought up Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin.
1.34 pm: Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal says it isn’t possible to have a uniform education syllabus in India, PTI reports. “The National Curriculum Framework, developed by the National Council of Education Research and Training, sets guidelines and direction for development of syllabi and textbooks at all school stages,” he says.
“The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) and State Education Boards either adopt or adapt NCERT’s model syllabi and textbooks or develop their own syllabi and textbooks based on NCF, so as to suit the state- specific needs,” he adds.
1.12 pm: Jaya Bachchan says it should be left to the public to give judgement in cases of rape. “If you have not been able to provide security, then leave it to the public to give judgement,” she says, according to ANI. “Those who failed to provide security and those who committed the crime should be exposed in public and then let people decide.”
12.53 pm: Trinamool Congress MP in the Lok Sabha Sougata Roy alleges that the local administration in Telangana was callous and insensitive while dealing with the complaints of the parents of the veterinary surgeon who was murdered and allegedly raped. “The House should take cognizance of the matter and the central government should bring forward a law making rape only punishable by death sentence,” he says.
12.50 pm: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader P Wilson says courts must be empowered to castrate convicted rapists before they are let out of jails to ensure that they do not repeat the offence, PTI reports. He adds that the list of sexual offenders must be made public.
12.40 pm: “The incident has brought shame to the entire country,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says in the Lok Sabha. “It has hurt everyone. The accused must be given the most stringent punishment for their crime.”
Singh adds that the Centre is ready to enact laws to control and eliminate such crimes against women.
12.38 pm: “One of the reason behind this incident was due to the indiscriminate sale of liquor in the state,” Reddy says in the Lok Sabha. “We condemn the incident and want accused to be hanged.”
12.33 pm: Congress leader UKN Reddy condemns the murder and alleged rape of the vet in Hyderabad and sought capital punishment for the accused. “This incident took place in highest security area of Hyderabad city,” Reddy says in the Lok Sabha, according to ANI. “Then came Telangana Home Minister’s shocking remarks where he said that she should have contacted the police instead of her family. The police officers insulted the family members by saying that your daughter must have eloped with somebody.”
12.30 pm: “As regard to promoters, we have ensured that the attached properties of the promoters can be given to RBI under certain conditions, so those properties can be auctioned out and the money can be given to depositors,” Sitharaman tells the Lok Sabha, according to ANI.
12.25 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says nearly 78% of the depositors of Punjab and Maharashtra Corporation Bank can now withdraw their entire account balance, ANI reports.
In September, the RBI imposed curbs on the bank, saying that depositors would not be allowed to withdraw more than Rs 1,000 from the bank for six months. The withdrawal limit was raised to Rs 25,000, and then to Rs 40,000 in October. On November 5, the RBI again increased the withdrawal limit to Rs 50,000.
12.15 pm: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi demands an unconditional apology from Chowdhury, according to ANI.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, had on Sunday lashed out at the Narendra Modi government over proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens, calling the prime minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah “migrants from Gujarat”.
“I can say that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah ji are themselves migrants,” he had said. “Their homes are in Gujarat but they have come to Delhi. Whether they are legal or illegal migrants, it will be known later.”
12.05 pm: BJP MP Uday Pratap Singh gives an adjournment notice in the Lok Sabha over the alleged derogatory remarks made by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, ANI reports.
11.50 am: Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu says political will, and not a new bill is required in such a situation. “No mercy should be given to rapists. No new bill, but political will is required. We should have nipped in the bud already. It’s too late already,” he says.
11.40 am: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Sunday assured people that a fast-track court would hear the case of the alleged gang rape, and murder of the 27-year-old Hyderabad veterinarian.
The woman had left home around 5.50 pm on Wednesday to visit a dermatologist in Gachibowli. She parked her two-wheeler near Shamshabad toll plaza and took a shared cab from there around 6.15 pm. On her way home, the woman realised that the rear wheel of her vehicle was punctured. Around 9.15 pm, the four accused – identified as Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, Mohammad Areef and Chintakunta Chennakesavulu – then approached her with offers to help.
According to the remand report accessed by NDTV, three of the accused forced the woman into a bush and raped her. They then smothered her to death, drove the body some distance away and set her on fire around 2.30 am. The accused were sent to judicial custody for 14 days on Saturday.
The incident has triggered widespread criticism of the law-and-order situation in the state.
11.30 am: Rajya Sabha MP and Samajwadi Party leader Jaya Bachchan calls for strict punishment against rapists. Rapists must be lynched in public, she says, according to News18. “People now want the government to give a definite answer. Is justice given? No justice yet in Nirbhaya case. These people should be lynched.”
11.25 am: AIADMK MP Vijila Sathyananth says India is not safe for children and women. “Four people who committed this crime should be hanged till death before December 31,” she says, according to ANI. “A fast-track court should be set up. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
11.20 am: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad says such problems can’t be solved by just making laws. “To eradicate such acts, there’s a need that we take a stand together against such crimes,” Azad says, according to ANI.
11.15 am: The Rajya Sabha is discussing the murder and alleged rape of the veterinary surgeon in Telangana.
11.10 am: These are the bills for consideration and passing in the Lok Sabha today:
- The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019
In the Rajya Sabha,
- The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture,Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019
- The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- The Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019
11.05 am: After several MPs submit notices on the Hyderabad vet’s murder and alleged rape, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla says he has granted permission to discuss the matter.
11 am: Meanwhile, the DMK submits an adjournment notice over the economic situation in the country. India’s Gross Domestic Product had contracted to 4.5% in the July-September quarter – the slowest growth rate in more than six years, and the sixth straight quarter of slowdown.
10.55 am: The All India Trinamool Congress, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Shiv Sena and the Congress give Adjournment motion notices in the Lok Sabha over the murder and alleged rape of the veterinary surgeon near Hyderabad, ANI reports.
10.50 am: Congress and IUML leaders give an adjournment notice in Lok Sabha over the alleged incursion of China in to Arunachal Pradesh, ANI reports.
10.45 am: Telugu Desam Party MP K Ravindra Kumar gives Zero Hour notice in the Rajya Sabha over the harassment of politicians in Andhra Pradesh.
10.40 am: BJP MP Sampatiya Uike gives Zero Hour notice in Rajya Sabha over expensive medical treatment in private hospitals, ANI reports.
10.35 am: Communist Party of India MP Binoy Viswam gives suspension of business notice in Rajya Sabha over the rise in prices of onions and pulses.
10.30 am: Bharatiya Janata Party MP Prabhat Jha gives Zero Hour notice in Rajya Sabha over the rise in crimes against women in the country, ANI reports. Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh gives also submits a suspension of business notice in Rajya Sabha over the rise in crime against women and the murder and alleged rape of a veterinary surgeon in Hyderabad.