LOK SABHA TV V RAJYA SABHA TV: BJP AND CONGRESS IMPRINTS

The Rajya Sabha speaks in the voice of the Indian National Congress and the political opposition that see its ideological and political survival in BJP bashing.

That is the sole reason responsible for the logjam around important Bills like Land Acquisition, tax reform bills including the Goods and Services Tax Bill, the Whistleblowers Bill and so on.

Both the Houses define each other as tyrannical and anarchist – and the debate always rages.

And this skewed discourse is best reflected best in the content of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha television channels.

As the names suggest, the Lok Sabha TV comes under the control of the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the Rajya Sabha TV under the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.

The content and the manpower selection and retention are thus aligned accordingly.

Yesterday, while randomly changing channels – I came across a perfect testimony to this – on June 25, around 3 PM.

NEHRU-MOOKERJEE COLLAGE

The Lok Sabha TV was showing a programme on Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, once a minister in the Jawahar Lal Nehru’s cabinet who quit the Congress due to his difference with Pundit Nehru and formed the Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP.

Like him or like any other political figure or ideologue associated with the BJP or its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS), most in India would not see much of them on TV (especially on the state run TV channels). But they are now all over, especially on the state channels run by the government like the Doordarshan, India’s national broadcaster.

Likewise, on the Rajya Sabha TV, still under the control of the Rajya Sabha with its control gear in the hands of a Congress member, it still revolves around political, ideological and historical figures of the post-Independence India – like Pundit Nehru.

The Lok Sabha TV was showing a programme on the Zamindari Abolition Act with Pundit Nehru in focus.

The two programmes on these two channels – in the same time slot – on the same day – indicated only this – reaffirmed only this – though it may be an unrelated, random event.

©SantoshChaubey

‘NO WORK, NO PAY’ FOR OUR MPS: DID YOU SAY THAT?

Reports say every minute of Parliament activist costs Rs. 2.5 lakh (Rs. 250,000) and most of it has been wasted in the recent parliamentary history of India.

And the season is here, yet again.

The issue is being debated intensely as the Parliament is in session and its working days so far, 10 days of this Monsoon Session, have been totally washed away in chaos.

Congress and the opposition parties supporting its stand are demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan’s chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia for helping Lalit Modi and Madhya Pradesh’s chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for Vyapam scam in the state. Obviously, going by the politics of the day, the BJP will never agree to such demands.

And as everyone is maintaining the stands taken, no one is listening to anyone. If we go by the audible records of the days in both Houses, voices of the Speakers of both Houses (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) are the most clear and audible ones – trying to run their Houses and trying to discipline the members (of Parliament, that seldom happens). That speaks a lot.

Obviously, that is taxpayers’ money which our policymakers so easily waste. In fact, the Parliament of has become synonymous with ruckus and chaos and its disruptions have become so routine that when it functions, it becomes a news.

And are policymakers are openly vocal and probably, insistent on it.

So, when a union minister proposed that the Narendra Modi government was considering bringing the MPs under ‘no work, no pay’ principle, the ears became spontaneously sceptical, taking the news with a fistful of salt.

And lo! Soon, the minister that had said so took U-turn saying he never said so.

Yes, the issue is a burning one and the suggestion, if someone from the policymaking benches moots so, would be the logical one, in fact the most pertinent one. After all, bureaucracy comes under ‘no work, no pay’. It is used in many private jobs and in corporate houses.

But our policymakers who see disrupting the Parliament daily as one of their democratic rights, even if it means loss of nation’s resources, even if means nothing productive happening at a place where policies running the country are made and modified, would never agree to it.

And reactions by parliamentarians on the ‘alleged’ suggestion of the union minister only reaffirm so.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

DEAR POLITICIANS AND BUREAUCRATS: CAN’T YOU VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP SUBSIDY IN PARLIAMENT CANTEENS?

Well, if Narendra Modi can request his countrymen to do so for LPG cylinders (liquefied petroleum gas cylinders, main cooking fuel in houses where PNG or ‘piped natural gas’ has not reached – or families that can and can somehow afford it), his government can certainly push the fellow members and their officials and officials of the Parliament and the Government to give up the ‘huge subsidy’ – ranging from 60% to over 100% (in some cases, a dish with raw material cost of Rs. 99 is served for Rs. 33) – on food in the Parliament canteens.

Congress has supported the move. Parliamentarians can give it up voluntarily. Or, they can come with a yardstick. Also, it is a popular issue politically – like Arvind Kejriwal successfully cashed the electoral popularity of ‘VIP culture’ in Delhi polls – most members (of Parliament) would be forced to look positive to such measures. Some may oppose the move but their count would not be enough to obstruct a decision to this effect. And if the politicians there support it, we can count the bureaucrats in.

Now, for the point – as told reportedly – that politicians alone cannot be blamed for the practice – well, politicians and well-to-do bureaucrats are to be blamed for it.

On March 27, Narendra Modi had appealed – as the Times of India writes – “People who can afford buying LPG at market rates should give up subsidy on cooking gas. Money we save from giving up LPG subsidy is the money we will use for the poor, so that they have access to clean energy too.”

It is now almost three months to that statement. MPs and bureaucrats could have set a precedent for masses by refusing subsidized food items in the Parliament. Alternatively, they could have come up with a mechanism to fix market price of each item to pay accordingly.

They did not do it. They have not done it. Would they do it now?

It is not for the Rs. 60.7 crore subsidy given to the Parliament canteens in the last five years, as Subhash Chandra Agrawal’s RTI reply reveals. It is a very small amount when we count the overall government expenditure on politicians. It is about the message that such gesture would send to the masses – in times, when we are moving towards a ‘subsidy free’ governance – in times, when economists urge for the ‘pressing need’ to do so – in times, when the government looks convinced to do so.

The prices that have not been revised since December 2010 look ridiculously low. After all, where do we get a ‘masala dosa’ for Rs. 6 or ‘boiled vegetables’ at Rs. 5? And the long ‘ridiculously funny’ list is replete with such examples. And it is not in the canteens of the Parliament. We have other such spots on the ‘subsidy freeway’ where wrong people are enjoying such perks.

Parliament canteens can set a precedent for all such folks. Would our Parliamentarians, bureaucrats and other ‘financially capable’ people relishing such ‘subsidized delicacies’ do so?

Would they voluntarily give up the subsidy on food items in the Parliament canteens beginning with the Monsoon Session that is from July 21?

Would they pay the ‘market prices’ with ‘service tax’ as every Indian is expected to pay (and has to pay) till the issue is fixed?

And since any such move will be ‘self-driven’, ‘altruistic’ and ‘voluntary, it will take care of those ‘who really need subsidized food items’ from the Indian Parliament canteens.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL IS MAKING LIFE DIFFICULT FOR BJP

After Punjab and Maharashtra, he began his farmers connect exercise in Telangana. In Adilabad, during his 15 Kms Padyatra covering five villages where farmers have committed suicide, he took on Narendra Modi, his land acquisition bill and K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the Telangana chief minister, today.

After his around two month long sabbatical or leave of absence, Rahul is in aggressive mode and irrespective of who closed the Amethi Food Park (his own United Progressive Alliance government is responsible for it), the changed provisions of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s land acquisition bill, that undoes some important clauses of the land bill passed by the UPA government in September 2013, have opened a front for him to attack the government and do the politics of looking pro-poor.

He even met the civil society members on the diluted provisions of the real estate bill. The NDA government has changed or diluted provisions of the bill brought by the UPA government and he alleges the changed provisions to be anti-people.

Clearly, he sees a point here to score politically, and like anyone else in the politics, he is doing the same thing.

Yes, he is silent on Robert Vadra even if the government of Haryana has formed a one-man commission of retired Justice S. N. Dhingra, of Delhi High Court who sentenced Afzal Guru to death, to probe Vadra land deals in Haryana. Congress, naturally, has reacted on it. Vadra has welcomed the move hoping it will clear things.

Rahul who called K. Chandrasekhar Rao ‘mini Modi’ today has forced others, especially in the BJP, to take note of him. He cannot be dismissed anymore, like the politics of his past. Before his return, he had rarely spoken in the Parliament, two times in all, including his famed ‘Kalavati’ speech in 2008. Whatever is the intent of the day, he is making life difficult for the BJP.

He is making leaders in the BJP to attack him, either on the land bill, or on other issue of ‘politics of poor’. And that is what he needs, his politics needs at the moment.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL GANDHI ON TWITTER

India is slated to become the world’s youngest nation by 2020. The UN (UNFPA State of the World’s Population report) says 356 million (28%) of its population is in 15-24 age-group, largest in the world.

Census of India says around 48% India’s population is below 21.

65% of India’s population is below 35.

While writing this, India’s population is over 1.25 billion, world’s second most populous nation after China, and projected to take over China by 2050.

A report by the US (Special 301 Report for 2015) says India’s internet base is projected to be of 370 million users by this year end, the second largest in the world. The report says 213 users will be using mobile internet by this June.

India’s teledensity is around 100 crores (1000 million). Lowering of smartphone prices has quickened the spread of mobile internet in India, already large enough, especially among the youth and working-age population.

The world’s second largest telecom network is India now.

And it is projected to be the world’s fastest growing economy, overtaking the growth rate of China.

That would be in Rahul Gandhi’s mind when his office joined Twitter yesterday. But a Twitter handle @RahulGandhi or a similar one would be far better than @OfficeOfRG.

It may be a personal decision by a politician who is trying to be more aggressive in national politics after returning from his leave of absence.

And as he has had not any social media presence so far, he would have thought to test the waters first with @OfficeOfRG. Rahul has been a favourite social media trend so far, especially for jokes.

Even if not in his name, it is expected from Rahul Gandhi that he will take this initiative seriously. After all, voters, too, come from this working-age population.

The lack of action so far, on day-1 and day-2 can have their own benefits of doubt and we should be ready to give that.

Day-1 was about ‘waiting for Twitter authentication’ and day-2 may be about the first day of activity, with three tweets so far, with the latest one nine hours ago. Hope, the initiative will see more and robust action from day-3 onwards.

If he has to take on the government, if he has to target Narendra Modi, there are more than enough issues in Indian politics to write about, to take care of.

It is all about going beyond the symbolic representations this time, of a hand, of hands and of Robert Vadra.

Rahul Gandhi Twitter

Rahul Gandhi Twitter 2

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MAY DAY OR NO MAYDAY: RAHUL IS MAKING NEWS FOR GOOD REASONS THESE DAYS

“Today we pay tribute to the millions of workers whose hard work, sweat and tears have gone into building our nation. No country can aspire to greatness without ensuring that the people who build the nation are partners in its prosperity and success. That those who work in our factories, in our fields, at our construction sites, in our mines and in enterprises big and small across our country are assured dignity of labour and a decent quality of life. That their children too have opportunities to choose the life they want to live, and a chance to excel and prosper. Let us renew our resolve today to strive for an India in which every citizen rich or poor, farmer and labourer, irrespective of the circumstance of their birth can hold their head high and live and work with dignity and honour.”

Rahul Gandhi said this today, on May Day, on Labour’s Day, or on International Workers’ Day. And while saying so, he extended the revival plank of his party, the Indian National Congress, of being pro-poor and fighting for the cause of the farmer.

He is on an India tour these days, protesting the land bill ordinance. In his meetings and outreach programmes, he alleges the Narendra Modi’s government of being anti-poor and anti-farmer. He is alleging that the Narendra Modi’s government is pro-corporate interests and is working to usurp the rights and land of farmers and the poor of this country. He is saying that the ordinance route was taken as the government was not sure of its chances in the Parliament.

Yesterday, he was in Vidarbha, the place of Kalavati and Shashikala and countless others; the place where Rahul ate at Kalavati’s house in May 2008 (in Yavatmal’s Jalka village) and mentioned her later in his famous speech in the Indian Parliament during the trust-vote Manmohan Singh’s government.

He trekked 15 Kms of it. He is there to reach out to farmers and poor. Unseasonal rains have destroyed crops in around 2 lakh hectares, as the government data show. The real figure is expected to be higher, like the farmer suicides, over 1000 this year, in affected regions across 14 states. Some states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have seen many farm suicides in these months.

And the National Democratic Alliance’s government has already re-promulgated a land ordinance that is vociferously opposed by the political opposition as well as some allied within the government.

A changed Rahul sees an opportunity here – of Congress’ revival – and of taking on Bhartiya Janata Party.

Yes, a changed Rahul Gandhi.

Post his latest sabbatical, Rahul looks politically active and more aggressive. And the BJP is taking it seriously, hitting back. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s response in the Indian Parliament yesterday can be seen this way. Firstpost quoted him saying – “Yeh sujh-bujh ki sarkar hai, isme koi galat fahmi nahi rahe (this is a government of solutions, there should be no misconception about this). Booted hona better hai. Booted out hona khatarnak hai (It is better to be booted. Getting booted out is very dangerous). Yesterday there was criticism (by Rahul) against the Prime Minister that he spends time abroad. At least we know where he is. Is India taller in the community of nations today than it was a few years ago or not? I was surprised when I read over the last few days that compared to the developed world, whether it was Iraq or it was Yemen or Nepal today, it is India which is now being considered as a global leader even in areas where we could not manage our own affairs earlier – disaster management. The Congress Party would realize when the Prime Minister of India goes abroad even for two days or three days, he performs a national duty. There is a difference between performing a national duty and disappearing for a jaunt. Therefore, you must realize the difference between the two. What is the kind of commitment to politics that you suddenly disappear for months together and then you come back and say that I will pick up an issue every day merely because it will make my presence felt.”

So, Rahul Gandhi, after his leave of absence, is more certain of his future than ever it seems. Probably, he has introspected and meditated about it.

Hope, the changed streak is there to stay – and words of his May Day speech, that are clearly backed by a pro-poor approach, should be backed by an intent that is natural.

And yes, he has to find the solution to the ‘Robert Vadra riddle’ and convince the countrymen about it. It should happen soon. There is indeed a mayday like situation there.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AN ACTIVE AND AGGRESSIVE RAHUL GANDHI: HOPE THIS STREAK IS THERE TO STAY..

Let’s be political about it and let’s be politically correct about it.

And let’s be politically straightforward about it.

And being politically straightforward in this country means it needs a strong government and a strong opposition – if we go by the legislative politics and political developments of the day.

Now there is a strong government, led by Narendra Modi – the National Democratic Alliance government led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP led government won the majority on its own, first time in 30 years – since 1984, when Rajiv Gandhi stormed to the Parliament winning 404 of the seats – riding high on the sympathy wave after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

But there is no strong opposition. And there are no strong opposition leaders – to the stature of Narendra Modi – except very few – who can challenge Narendra Modi nationally.

And Rahul Gandhi after his recent sabbatical stands first among them.

For the time-being, he looks charged, has an agenda, and is pursuing it.

If we take different news reports in consideration, his latest sabbatical was of around two months. The world was talking about it but came to know about it officially on a Monday (February 23) when the Budget session of the Parliament began. On April 16, he returned.

Reports say many things about his sabbatical – including introspection and meditation (that included Vipassana as well).

He made news headlines during his around two-months long sabbatical. He was seen as a reluctant politician with a string of electoral failures since 2010. The aura of ‘seriousness’ around him was on the wane. But his leave of absence, shrouded in mystery, made for daily news elements.

And the good things is – his return and he himself are making for even more news elements.

And that is good for Indian politics. He is taking on the government. His politics looks like having a future now. He is speaking and interacting regularly.

Hope this streak is there to stay with an active and aggressive Rahul Gandhi.

Indian politics of the day badly needs a strong opposition and opposition leader and Rahul Gandhi can lead here. One-sided numbers of political opposition in Rajya Sabha would be of little advantage to the country until there are voices, both in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, that raise issues in a constructive way and are ready to fight back.

And the government is taking serious note of Rahul Gandhi now, readings of the political developments of the day tell us.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TO HOLD ITS GROUND, NDA GOVT NEEDS THE LAND BILL ORDINANCE THROUGH

The hon. President has convened the Joint Sitting of both the Houses of Parliament under Article 108 of the Constitution in connection with discussing the configuration and implications of the Prevention of Terrorism Law and whether it should be passed or not? An anti-terrorism law already existed in America, yet they have brought a new law. The whole nation of United States was unanimous about it and when that law was brought before the Senate, only one vote was cast against it. After the attack on World Trade Centre which took a toll of about 3000 people, the President of America lost no time in declaring, `A war has been launched on the United States of America’. On the other hand, in our country this law was defeated in the Rajya Sabha and, paradoxically, the spokespersons of the parties went to extent of saying that they wanted to show to the world that this country was divided over this issue.

Arun Jaitley, the Minister of Law, Justice & Company Affairs, March 2002 (during a joint sitting of the Parliament to pass the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 – POTA – to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance – POTO)

We need to get ready to listen to something like this when the National Democratic Alliance government led by Narendra Modi goes ahead with the Land Bill ordinance to get it passed in the joint sitting of the Parliament.

Narendra Modi has no other option.

He has promised the sky and he needs to deliver if he has to leave his legacy behind. And to leave a legacy worth talking about, he needs to come back in power in 2019.

He needs time.

One year is almost gone and the policy apparatus is still not in place, a must before Modi embarks on the journey to realize his dreams, to deliver on his promises.

And if a five year term, i.e., the single term, is going to be the window available, Modi has started running out of time.

He has promised jobs. He has promised increased income. He promised better amenities to live with. He has promised smarter living with smart cities. He has promised faster living with increased connectivity and reduced run time.

To say in one sentence – he has promised good times for a good life.

And the government cannot do so on its own. It needs collaborators, primarily from the industry, from within, and from abroad.

It needs capital and ways to invest that capital – in industries, in infrastructure – generating revenue, creating employment.

And land is an imperative in achieving this.

Delay in land acquisition has stalled projects worth over Rs. 3.5 Lakh Crore. There are reports that take this cost to Rs. 20 Lakh Crore. A CMIE report puts the worth of the stalled projects to some 14 Trillion US$. The industrial corridors of Delhi-Mumbai and Mumbai-Chennai and over 60 national highways are stalled due to delay in acquiring land.

Land is needed to create industrial corridors, new residential hubs and the associated infrastructure. Land is needed to connect India better to move faster.

Land is the key to unlock what Modi is aspiring for. And it is the key reason behind the Land Bill ordinance that diluted the provisions of the previous Bill passed by the Manmohan Singh led United Progressive Alliance government. Broadly, more categories have been exempted where owners’ consent is not necessary. Also, the provisions related to Social Impact Analysis have been diluted as well.

With mounting opposition and criticism, not just from the political opposition, but from his own allies, as well as civil society movements like the one launched by Anna Hazare, the ‘consensus’ that was always elusive, has gone beyond reach, with the present form of the Bill.

And to have his way ahead, Modi needs the Bill cleared in this form.

So, expect justifications, all of which are not invalid with some having mandatory relevance for spurring growth in India, during the joint session that is to be called to get the Land Bill ordinance cleared.

Would it be Arun Jaitley this time to initiate the debate of the joint sitting, the Minister of Finance and Information & Broadcasting now, one of the most eloquent NDA ministers? Last time, in 2002, it was the then Home Minister L K Advani.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

HEROIC ACTS IN INDIAN PARLIAMENT AND LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLIES: THE TOP 10

It was really a tough choice to make a list of 10 most credible and inspirational heroic acts being performed in the Indian legislative institutions including in the Parliament out of the 21, a list that I preferentially created in one of my previous posts here.

But, finally, here it is..

THE TOP 10
(The highly filtered ‘preferential’ list)

1. Waving currency notes
(The hallowed event of Indian Democracy – in Parliament in July 2008)

2. Use of pepper spray
(The glorified event of Indian Democracy – in Parliament in February 2014)

3. Waving knife or a broken microphone that resembled a knife
(The hallowed event of Indian Democracy – in Parliament in July 2008)

4. Taking off clothes/Tearing others’ clothes
(In UP Assembly in February 2014; in Tamil Nadu Assembly in March 1989 – Jayalalitha was attacked that left her disheveled and her sari torn)

5. Punching Assembly Marshals and others
(In J&K Assembly in February 2014; in Punjab Assembly in March 2013; and in some other state assemblies)

6. Manhandling/Fist-fighting/Scuffles causing physical injuries
(Overall a regular event – in Parliament; in West Bengal Assembly in December 2012; and in other state assemblies)

7. Slapping others including fellow members
(As in J&K Assembly in February 2013; and in some other state assemblies)

8. Climbing on the desk, of other fellow members, of Speaker, of other House officials
(Multiple times – in many legislative assemblies)

9. Tearing and throwing legislative documents
(A regular occurrence – in many legislative bodies including the Parliament)

10. Upturning and breaking furniture
(Multiple times – in many assemblies)

So..how they stacked up here..

Watch out..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE REPRESENTATIVE ACTS: HEROIC ACTS IN INDIAN PARLIAMENT AND LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLIES

The filtered alphabetical list

Breaking and throwing microphones
(Multiple times – in many legislative bodies including the Parliament)

Climbing on the desk, of other fellow members, of Speaker, of other House officials
(Multiple times – in many legislative assemblies)

Creating din in the Well of the House
(A regular event – in Parliament as well as in state assemblies)

Grabbing collar
(In Parliament in 2009; and in some state assemblies)

Hurling broken furniture and sound-boxes
(In West Bengal Assembly in November 2007)

Hurling pedestal fan towards the Speaker
(In J&K Assembly in October 2011)

Manhandling/Fist-fighting/Scuffles causing physical injuries
(Overall a regular event – in Parliament; in West Bengal Assembly in December 2012; and in other state assemblies)

Punching Assembly Marshals and others
(In J&K Assembly in February 2014; in Punjab Assembly in March 2013; and in some other state assemblies)

Slapping others including fellow members
(As in J&K Assembly in February 2013; and in some other state assemblies)

Smashing computer screen and glass panes
(In Parliament in February 2014; in Gujarat Assembly in March 2005)

Snatching papers from other fellow members
(A regular event – in Parliament as well as in state assemblies)

Taking off clothes/Tearing others’ clothes
(In UP Assembly in February 2014; in Tamil Nadu Assembly in March 1989 – Jayalalitha was attacked that left her disheveled and her sari torn)

Tearing and throwing legislative documents
(A regular occurrence – in many legislative bodies including the Parliament)

Throwing chairs
(A regular event – in many legislative assemblies)

Throwing paper-missiles
(A regular event – in many legislative assemblies)

Throwing slipper at the Speaker
(In Bihar Assembly in July 2010)

Upturning and breaking furniture
(Multiple times – in many assemblies)

Use of pepper spray
(The glorified event of Indian Democracy – in Parliament in February 2014)

Use of un-parliamentary and abusive words
(A regular occurrence – in Parliament as well as in state assemblies with the scale taking acerbic hues there)

Waving currency notes
(The hallowed event of Indian Democracy – in Parliament in July 2008)

Waving knife or a broken microphone that resembled a knife
(The hallowed event of Indian Democracy – in Parliament in July 2008)

These are just representative acts and representations here. Each category, barring few, has multiple of trend-setting examples. The categories that lack on count are expected to gain numerical strength in the days to come if we go by the developments happening now and the credible history they follow.

**Please feel happy to add to the list (I apologise for my ignorance on missing such points).

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/