Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Dayanidhi Maran said in the Lok Sabha on Friday that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was diluting Goods and Services Tax -related concerns with her “act of God” excuse.
Opposition leaders criticised the PM CARES Fund, set up in March in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic by the prime minister’s office. They questioned the need for a new fund, and why is it not being audited by Comptroller and Auditor General of India. However, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said they were criticising the fund “just for the sake of it” and that their “intentions are wrong.
Earlier in the day, the Upper House passed the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020, by voice vote.
The Rajya Sabha also passed the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020, after heated discussions over the Members of Parliament Local Area Development, or the MPLAD scheme.
7.31 pm: Maran adds that the finance minister is diluting the GST concerns with her ‘act of God’ excuse.
7.22 pm: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Dayanidhi Maran questions the Centre’s proposal to meet the Goods and Services Tax collection shortfall. “How can centre expect states to carry on the additional burden of borrowing?” he asks, ANI reports. “This is nothing short of deception. We don’t see any green shoots in the economy.”
7.17 pm: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury hits out at the Centre over job losses amid the coronavirus crisis. “More than 2 crores salaried employees have lost their jobs,” he says, according to ANI. “14 lakh workers have no work now. How can we expect growth in such a scenario?”
7.11 pm: The Congress MP also asks Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman what happened to the government’s $5 trillion economy goal. “We are already at 23% low [gross domestic product], which may further go down to 35%, according to experts,” he says, according to The Indian Express. “What is the fate of 5 Trillion economy? “What is the state of PSU [public sector undertaking] monetisation?”
The MP refers to the government’s coronavirus economic package as a “bluff” .
7.07 pm: Chowdhury criticises the Centre for saying that it didn’t keep data on the deaths of migrant workers amid the lockdown, ANI reports. “This is a ‘no-data government’,” he says.
7.02 pm: BJP MP Jayant Sinha tells the Lok Sabha that the number of jobs under the scheme reduced from 6 crore to below 2 crore because the economy is recovering from the impact of the coronavirus.
6.54 pm: Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury questions the Centre on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment scheme. “The government has sought an additional Rs 40,000 crores for MGNREGA,” he says, according to ANI. “This is no real contribution. You people (the BJP ) used to say ‘MGNREGA marega’ [it will die]. It will not die but save people. Now even you are forced to laud it.”
6.51 pm: Thakur expresses regret over his remark on the Nehru-Gandhi family. “I had no intent to hurt anybody’s sentiments,” he says, according to ANI. “I regret my remarks if they hurt anyone.”
5.28 pm: Tharoor says that the government does not want to face the Opposition’s questions. “This is an attempt by the government to distract the nation and the Parliament from real issues being raised,” he says. “They don’t want discussion and face opposition criticism. All they are interested in is rushing their bills without any objection.”
5.24 pm: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor criticises Thakur’s remarks. “Instead of answering objection raised [on PM CARES Fund], Union minister Anurag Thakur proceeded to deliver political speech in worst possible taste and started attacking everybody from Gandhi, Nehru to present-day Gandhi family which was not relevant,” he says, according to ANI.
5.11 pm: The Lok Sabha is adjourned till 5:30 pm.
4.59 pm: The Opposition demands an apology from Thakur for his comments on the Nehru-Gandhi family during the debate, NDTV reports.
“From the High Court to the Supreme Court, every court has validated the PM CARES fund,” Thakur says. “Little children have contributed to it from their piggy banks. Nehru set up a fund that has not been registered to date. You [Congress] only made a trust for the benefit of the Gandhi family. You made Sonia Gandhi its chairman. It should be investigated.”
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury hits back at Thakur. “Who is this boy from Himachal?” he asks. “How did Nehru come into this debate? Did we take [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi’s name? This two-bit chhokra [boy].”
3.55 pm: Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur says Opposition leaders are criticising the fund “just for the sake of it” and that their “intentions are wrong”, reports The Hindu. Thakur also says courts have disposed of all cases against PM CARES Fund.
3.48 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy also objects to introduction of the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020. “The prime minister already has a national relief fund and PM relief fund for cancer fund, what is the need for new fund, there will be no audit by CAG of this fund,” he says. “This fund should be abolished and all the funds must be transferred to the PM national relief fund.”
3.42 pm: Congress leader Manish Tewari asks if it would have been more appropriate to create the PM CARES Fund through a legislation rather than as a public trust.
3.40 pm: In Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduces the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020, reports The Hindu. Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and AM Arif oppose the bill, which seeks to provide the same tax treatment to PM CARES Fund as available to Prime Minister National Relief Fund.
1.30 pm: The Rajya Sabha is adjourned till Saturday 9 am.
1.28 pm: Rajya Sabha passes Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 by voice vote.
1.26 pm: Congress MP and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also says that MPLAD funds are vital. He demands the suspension of the scheme be modified from the current two years to one year.
“What do we construct from these funds?” he asks. “We don’t construct palaces. It is used to construct small houses, kachcha roads, and other small but necessary amenities.”
12.30 pm: The Congress MP adds that there is no accountability for the PMCARES fund, and many other programs of the central government. Satav says the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme, or the MPLAD scheme, must be reinstated because it benefits people on ground.
12.17 pm: Satav also asks the Centre to suspend the Central Vista Project until the coronavirus outbreak is contained in the country.
12.14 pm: A discussion is underway in the Rajya Sabha over the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Hindu reports. Congress MP Rajeev Satav says that he fully supports the Bill and is even willing to work for Re1 if that would help the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis. However, he says that the attempt to suspend MPLAD is wrong.
12.01 pm: The Rajya Sabha passes the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020, by voice note.
11.57 am: The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020, gets passed in the Rajya Sabha by voice vote, The Indian Express reports.
11.56 am: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan objects to the use of the term “quackery” by Trinamool Congress MP Shantanu Sen, while referring to a certain ancient Indian medical system. “I am pained by the use of this word,” he says.
11.52 am: The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will be tabled in Rajya Sabha at noon, News18 reports.
11.49 am: Aam Aadmi Party MP from Delhi Sanjay Singh says that the amount set aside for homoeopathy in the AYUSH ministry budget is very small, The Hindu reports.
11.44 am: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP T Siva says the Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill was one more attempt of the Centre to “strike the roots of federalism”. “From the day they assumed office, most Bills passed have taken away the powers of the state government,” he adds.
11.08 am: TMC MP Shantanu Sen accuses the government of promoting quackery and private colleges. He is speaking on the conditions of homeopathy centres. “What can be expected from a government that says that drinking cow urine can cure disease,” he asks.
11.05 am: BJD MP Prasanna Acharya says there is a need to make homeopathy system robust for poor, reports The Indian Express.
10.15 am: Protests are likely after the Lok Sabha on Thursday passed two farm bills – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
10 am: These are the bills for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha, reports PTI.
- The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
- The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
- The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
- The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
- The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020
9.50 am: BJD MP Muzibulla Khan requests Rajya Sabha to conduct a new Census for Odisha, reports The Indian Express.
9.40 am: Congress MP Manickam Tagore has given adjournment notice in Lok Sabha to discuss Facebook’s alleged interference in India’s electoral democracy, reports ANI.
9.35 am: Rajya Sabha chairperson Venkaiah Naidu reminds the members of safety guidelines to be followed amid the coronavirus crisis.
9.07 am: The Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till 9.30 am after members pay tribute to Karnataka MP Ashok Gasti, who died late on Thursday after contracting the coronavirus.
9 am: The Rajya Sabha session begins.