Indian Parliament logjam ends with discussion on President’s address

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi accused the government of favouring Adani Group by facilitating contracts in several sectors.


Rahul Gandhi while speaking on Motion of Thanks to the President's Address. [ Photo:IANS]

February 8, 2023

NEW DELHI – The Opposition today virtually exploded on the Government with its pent-up charges on the Adani Group affair as Parliament resumed normal business after three days of logjam, and took up discussion on President Droupadi Murmu’s address to Parliament.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, speaking in the Lok Sabha, accused the government of favouring Adani Group by facilitating contracts in several sectors. The Adanis’ worth multiplied several times since 2014, he said. The Adanis were at the 609th place in the world, but jumped to the second place in 2022. The Adanis slowly got into business in roads, ports, airports and got contracts in a neighbouring country.

The State Bank of India gave a huge loan to the Group. There were several other public sector banks joining later, along with the LIC, and invested thousands of crores of rupees in the Adani Group, he said.

Referring to the Hindenburg report on the business group, the Congress MP said the government should look into the claims made in it about shell companies. When the Congress leader was speaking, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said when statements were made in Parliament, they should be authentic.

The Congress MP said the President’s address has not mentioned issues related to unemployment, price-rise and farmers’ problems. He questioned the government over the merits of the Agniveer scheme. Senior officers told him the Agniveer scheme was imposed on the Army, he said. It was imposed by the RSS and the Home Ministry, he said.

Such a large number of people were being trained in the use of weapons. After that, they would mix in the society. There could be violence as unemployment continued. This was a fear expressed to him, he said.

He said that during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the youth said they were unemployed. He was told by youth that they were joining the Agniveer service but would be thrown out of job after four years with no pension. The farmers said they paid for the crop insurance scheme but did not benefit when the storms came. They said their lands were being taken over. The adivasis said they were being deprived of what they got under the tribal laws.

DMK MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi alleged that the central government is undermining the federal structure of the country. She also questioned the government over the women reservation bill. Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee raised the issue of the Hindenburg report on the Adani Group to target the government. He said serious allegations of money laundering have been made in the report and it should be probed. The ED was not initiating any action and it was being used against the Opposition.

Banerjee said the voice of the Opposition was being suppressed. India has never seen such misuse of police power. The Opposition is under threat. The Opposition is demanding a committee under the Supreme Court. The people have faith in the judiciary.The Law Minister is questioning the collegium everyday, does it send a good message. He says the Judges are not elected. The Election Commission is also not elected, Mr Banerjee said.

Banerjee said the Government is not clear about the Women’s reservation Bill. Only the Trinamul Congress has 35 per cent women MPs. He said the States are not under the Centre. The PM is calling all Chief Secretaries, DMs why, he said. In many Central schemes, Centre’s share is 60 per cent, and 40 per cent is State share, then why only PM’s name with the schemes, he said.

Initiating the discussion in the Lok Sabha, BJP MP C P Joshi lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership saying India’s stature at world forum has strengthened. He said the government has taken a series of measures for the welfare of every section of society.

He said in 2014 when Narendra Modi’s government came into power, there was widespread corruption in the country which has been checked by the present regime. He said the government is working on a vision of Antyodaya, which means empowering the last person at the last mile. Mr Joshi said the farmers, youth and the poor are looking upto Mr Modi with high hopes.

Joshi alleged that previous governments ignored them but this government has taken several steps for their welfare. He said under this government, the economy remained stable despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the Rajya Sabha, BJP MP Dr K Laxman initiated the discussion and said that the world is looking towards India for the solution to problems including Covid pandemic, terrorism and global peace order. He said the government’s bold steps have strengthened the country’s economy and now it has become the 5th largest economy in the world.

He said this government is giving priority to public welfare by focusing on innovation and technology and ensuring basic amenities for all. Highlighting the importance of National Education Policy, Mr Laxman said emphasis has been laid upon the policy for the promotion of regional languages. Another party MP Prakash Javadekar lauded the government’s efforts for containing inflation saying that in comparison to other countries, inflation is much lower in India. On the job creation front, he said the government is continuously working in this direction.

Participating in the discussion, Congress MP Digvijaya Singh criticized the government for not allowing a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Adani Group issue. He said the Hindenburg’s report on the company is being discussed worldwide and the government must come out with a statement on it. He said why the regulatory and investigating agencies including SEBI, ED and CBI are silent on this issue.

Mr Singh said the report says Adani has a history of irregularities. The financial performance was overstated. The company has used political connections to gain, its work has affected the environment. The Government must come out with a clear report on what the position is. The Prime Minister should be advised about the inquiry, why not a JPC, he asked.

Echoing the same view, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O Brien accused the government of weakening the institutions like RBI and SEBI. He also accused the government of misusing the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and investigative agencies against the opposition. He said various issues including inflation, doubling of farmers’ income and smart cities were not mentioned in the President’s address.

O’Brien said the PM was a CM before and how he could blockade States’ funds. MGNREGA funds to WB were stopped. The scheme’s job share is down to 42 days from 100 days. There are conditions for States. price rise, milk prices have gone up. Youth does not want slogans, they are jobless, he said.

DMK MP Tiruchi Shiva accused the government of adopting a pro-rich policy and anti-poor approach. He also demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Adani Group issue. He accused that BJP in its election manifesto had promised to double the income of the farmers but instead of doubling the income, prices of fertilizer had gone up.

Siva said federalism and secularism are eroded, dissent is criminalised. In democracy free speech is essential along with protection of minorities.Poverty is yet to be eradicated. Humanitarian obligations are yet to be realised. 78 times petrol prices raised and Rs 8 lakh crore earned. Ignore Opposition notices, he said, people are talking about the Adani issue and so why not constitute a JPC; the Government should have resolved the issue by considering the suggestion.

Sasmit Patra of BJD asked about the Women’s Reservation Bill. Odisha was proud of the President coming from Odisha, he said. The free ration scheme was renamed but quantity has been reduced. The Garib Kalyan Yojana should be restored. V Vijaysai Reddy of YSR Congress demanded special category status for Andhra Pradesh.

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