NEW DELHI (TIP): A day after the government faced embarrassment due to division of votes in Rajya Sabha over an amendment to the President’s address, an ‘unhappy’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Feb 4 sought explanation from members of his party (BJP) and NDA allies for being absent from the Upper House at the crucial moment of voting.
As many as 10 out of 46 BJP members and 12 from allies were absent in the House when the CPM members Sitaram Yechury and P Rajeeve moved the amendment and pressed for division of votes. The amendment was passed with 118 votes in favour and 57 against it.
“All these members including couple of ministers who were absent in the House during voting have been asked to explain the reasons of their absence”, said a source.
Though their presence wouldn’t have made much difference as the NDA is in a minority in Rajya Sabha, the explanation should ensure that these members are present in full strength next time when such a situation arises.
Since a number of bills are lined up for the Rajya Sabha in the ongoing budget session, such a situation cannot be ruled out.
Besides 46 of BJP, the NDA has six members from TDP, three each from Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), two from PDP and one each from other smaller parties.
The NDA could, however, get 57 votes during the division despite the absentees as members from the friendly AIADMK and couple of Independents voted against the amendment.
Though the Opposition was also not present in the House in full strength, it could easily manage to sail through as members of almost all opposition parties including Congress, SP, BSP, Trinamool Congress, DMK, BJD, JD(U) and CPI voted for the CPM’s amendment.
[quote_box_center]‘LAND BILL NOT AGAINST FARMERS’[/quote_box_center]
Even as the government is getting ready to push the contentious Land Acquisition Bill in the Lok Sabha on Monday after the Holi break, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accused the Opposition of using its majority in the Upper House to stall the country’s progress.
Virtually taking the impasse over the land bill to public, Modi said: “I appeal you to raise your voice against them.”
He was speaking at inauguration of two units of 600 MW of Shri Singhaji Thermal Plant and laying foundation stone for two units of 660 MW each in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh.
While accusing the previous government of passing a law that he termed as “anti-farmer and anti-development”, Modi said: “We are accused of being anti-farmers, but when I told them in the Rajya Sabha that I am ready to amend the legislation, they did not come up with one point.”
In his old Gujarat election campaign style, he asked a series of questions to the gathering to drive home the point that land was essential for schools, roads, hospitals and factories because “they can’t be built in the sky.”
“Do you want your sons to end up in slums in Delhi or Mumbai? Would you rather have your sons employed in nearby places,” he said, while accusing the UPA Government of not allocating land for schools, hospitals and factories.
“I have no personal business or interests,” he said and called himself a chowkidar (watchman), a term he used frequently during campaigning for the general elections. Alleging corruption in the coal block allocation during the UPA rule and the subsequent cancellation by the Supreme Court, he said, “they sinned and created problems for us.”
Referring to the recent auction of 19 coal blocks and the 1.10 lakh crore it generated, Modi said his government has proved the then CAG right. “We are transparent and don’t work behind curtains. Not one paisa will be swindled,” he said and added, “no one can estimate the amount that will be generated when the auction of the remaining coal mines is over.”
“It’s your money,” he told the audience while referring to the 40,000 crore Madhya Pradesh will get from auction of four coal mines.