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Opposition vs. Government: The Parliament faces heavy storms during its monsoon session

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By Aishwarya Nag Choudhury

The dead-locks and stand-offs

The monsoon session of the Parliament has become the battleground between the Government and the Congress-led opposition parties. With crucial Bills at hand, the number of deadlocks in the house is constantly on the rise. After the washout of the first week, the session resumed on Monday, promising a continuation of the stand- off between the Modi government and the opposition, especially Congress and the left parties.

Picture credit: indianexpress.com
Picture credit: indianexpress.com

The session that began on July 21 continues till August 13. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, before its commencement, said to the media that he hoped for a fruitful monsoon session in which MP’s would contribute towards making good decisions.

However, it seems that the opposition has no intention of cooperating with the current government as they continue the second week of the session with heels dug into controversies surrounding BJP.

On the first day itself, Rajya Sabha witnessed vociferous discussions on controversies related to Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and the Vyapam scam. The house proceedings were disrupted twice and finally adjourned. The opposition demanded discussion on all issues and the immediate resignation of Sushma Swaraj who currently holds the external affairs portfolio. On the second day of the session, the opposition was seen wearing black bands and holding placards demanding Swaraj to resign. The session was adjourned till Monday.

On July 23, Rahul Gandhi, in a statement to the media said the Congress will not encourage any discussion until the resignation of the external affairs minister is confirmed. He further remarked that the Prime Minister’s credibility is on the decline as he refuses to listen to the voices of the common people.

Picture credit: indianexpress.com
Picture credit: indianexpress.com

The Prime Minister agreed to investigate the case of Swaraj but refused any discussion on Vasundara Raje and Shivnath Singh Chouhan, claiming that they are state matters.

However, the government rejected the immediate resignation of Sushma Swaraj. On the flipside, the government is now targeting Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party as a whole.

The Legislative Bills ignored?

Among such intense mud-splattering, the much needed collective effort to resolve disagreements over important bills is completely absent. The monsoon session has 10 pending Bills, 2 controversial Bills that are held up in committees, and more Bills for introduction at hand.

Before the commencement of the session, the Prime Minister had said to that he hoped for the smooth functioning of Parliament and collective effort to resolve the controversies over the Land Acquisition Bill. However, the Congress-led opposition has paralyzed the session over Lalit Modi and other BJP related controversies leading to stagnating discussions over important Bills.

Bills like the Mental Healthcare Bill (2013), Child Labour (protection and regulation) Amendment bill (2013), Prevention of Corruption (2013), and Juvenile Justice (2015) are just a few among the pending Bills that were to be discussed during the session. The monsoon session also had plans to introduce Bills like the Consumer Protection Amendment Bill (2015) and the Road Transport and Safety Bill (2015) among others. However, the highlight remains on the debatable Bills that have been held up in committees for years now, namely the Land Acquisition Bill and the Goods and Sales Tax Bills.

The Prime Minister was insistent on moving forward with the controversial Land Bill. However, the Samajwadi Party has expressed grievances with the amendments made to the bill. “A solution is possible only if the government withdraws amendments.” Samajwadi party’s Rajgopal Yadav said to the media.

A Joint Committee of the Parliament under BJP MP SS Ahluwahlia is looking into the Land Acquisition Bill and has asked for an extension of two weeks to finalize reports. The report of the committee is due for August 3 and debate on the matter till then is unlikely. In case, a consensus is not reached, the government will have to settle with an ordinance once again.

However, BJP leaders are of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with repeating ordinances. They cited examples of ordinances used twice or more by UPA government like the Securities Laws ordinance among others to support their stance.

Picture credit: hindustantimes.com
Picture credit: hindustantimes.com

Similarly, it is likely that the Goods and Sales Tax Bill will also miss its deadline of 2016 because of the face-off in Parliament. The GST Bill remains a key reform Bill, aiming for a unified national trade market. This Bill can dramatically alter the country’s tax administration by replacing a string of levies with a single tax. This is a key constituent of the government’s reform agenda.

However, after the Bill is passed, it will have to be ratified by 29 states in the same way. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh while disclosing his reservations about the GST, after the first day in session, said that the congress has no intentions of cooperating with the ruling government. “So what if we miss the GST bill? During the UPA we missed the GST twice. To us GST is good and simple tax.”

With the government and opposition continuously challenging each other, the monsoon session of the parliament has in reality become the battleground of politicians. What is being ignored are the discussions related to Bills and news of progress in this field had remained scarce. With the parliament resuming on Monday, a continuation of political chaos is expected. However, the progress that could be made regarding legislative bills still remains doubtful.

 

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All You Need To Know About The Rafale Deal Controversy

The fiasco that Congress is creating on the Rafale Deal is certainly not fair

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Rafale Deal is very important for both the countries involved i.e. India and France.
Rafale Deal is very important for both the countries involved i.e. India and France.

By Ruchika Verma 

  • Rafale Deal happened between India and France
  • The Rafale Deal is about the Rafale fighter jets
  • The deal is getting into controversies because of the allegations de by the opposition, especially Congress

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 made the announcement that India will buy 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets from Dassault, a French aircraft builder and integrator. This came to be known as Rafale Deal.

The Rafale deal of 36 Rafale aircrafts between India and France was called a “win-win partnership” for both the countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi finalised the Rafale Deal during his visit to France in 2015. (FILE PHOTO)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi finalised the Rafale Deal during his visit to France in 2015. (FILE PHOTO)

But recently it has come under attack of the Opposition, mainly the Indian National Congress, which has alleged that there have been irregularities in this deal and its proceedings. However, the government has denied and rejected all the charges.

The Rafale Deal is nothing new and was also signed during the time of UPA government. The first time it came to light was during the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee where the original proposal was to buy 126 fighter jets.

After tests and negotiations in 2012, Rafale was considered L-1 bidder and negotiations started which only came to a conclusion as the Rafale Deal in 2015 under Prime Minister Modi’s government.

NDA government has got a better price on the Rafale Deal than the UPA governement.
NDA government has got a better price on the Rafale Deal than the UPA government.

Now the UPA alleging irregularities on NDA government doesn’t seem fair to many because no deal took place under their government. The transfer of technology was a primary issue of concern between the two sides. Dassault Aviation also tried to deny to take the responsibility of quality control of the production of 108 aircraft in India. The Dassault provided for 3 crore man-hours for production of the Rafale jets in India, HAL’s estimate was approximately 3 times higher which resulted in an escalation of costs in the manifold.

Also Read: Make in India: France to set up production centers for Rafale fighters

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France in 2015 helped bring this deal to a final conclusion. The government-to-government deal of 36 jets was to completed as soon as possible.

On costs of the Rafale Deal, NDA government has said that it got better terms than those quoted in the original bid under the UPA government. The total savings are reported to be of more than 1600 million Euros. However, the cost breakdown of Rafale Deal in the original bid under UPA government and in the 36 aircraft in the NDA’s government-to-government deal is not available for the public domain.

The Rafale Deal involves no private party from the side of India. www.worldwide-military.com
The Rafale Deal involves no private party from the side of India. www.worldwide-military.com

Under the current agreement, the  Rafale Deals support the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Indian Government through the IGA’s Article 12. It states that France will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make In India’. These critical design technologies were already discussed between the two governments in previous meetings. The present Rafale Deal is signed between two sovereign governments and there is no private individual, firm or entity involved in the process from the side of India. The procurement process also does not include any private company or firm from India.

Also Read: IAF’s Rafale Deal with France: India confirms order

The fiasco that Congress is creating on the Rafale Deal is certainly not fair as the NDA government has proved that their deal is better than the one which was undertaken during the UPA government.