New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made a fresh pitch for passage of GST and other legislations in the Rajya Sabha considering the “conducive atmosphere” that has been prevailing in Parliament this session with cooperation from the opposition.
Like in the Lok Sabha last week, he was both conciliatory and mocking towards the opposition, particularly Congress, during his hour long reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Upper House.
Referring to some 300 amendments that have been tabled to the motion of thanks, Modi appealed to the parties to withdraw them and passed the motion unanimously to ensure dignity of the President’s office and in keeping with the high traditions of the House.
However, despite his appeal, the government suffered an embarrassment when the House adopted the Motion of Thanks to President’s Address with an amendment moved by Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad in a division in which 94 voted for the amendment and 61 against.
The amendment regretted that the address did not commit support to rights of all citizens to contest Panchayat elections in the backdrop of law in Rajasthan and Haryana where matriculation has been fixed as the criteria for contesting the polls.
During his speech, Modi invoked late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s words to say that Rajya Sabha is a chamber of ideas and there was need for coordination between it and the Lok Sabha because both of them are part of a structure.
“I hope we give importance to Pandit Nehru’s thinking and I hope all pending bills are passed in this session,” he said amid thumping of desks by the treasury benches.
The government has been having difficulties in getting through with its legislations, especially the crucial Goods and Services Tax bill, because of the lack of majority in the Upper House.
Adopting a conciliatory approach, the Prime Minister referred to the President’s address in which the President appealed to the members to ensure smooth functioning of the Parliament and not allow disruption.
“We have been running Parliament this session smoothly for this I would thank the opposition for carrying forward President’s message. The impact of the President’s message is a matter of pride for us,” he said.
Pointing to the smooth functioning of the Houses this session, Modi said the Lok Sabha sat till mid night yesterday and the Rajya Sabha had a late sitting a couple of days ago.
“Even after the late sittings, the members were enthusiastic and excited. Because, after a long time, they got an opportunity to express themselves in Parliament and to put through their views across.
“The Question Hour is a good opportunity for members to keep the government, ministers and the executive on a tight leash and ensure accountability which is greatest strength of democracy,” he said.
Modi said in the past session, out of 169 starred questions, only seven were taken up while 42 hours were wasted because of disruptions. In the session before that, only six questions were taken up and 72 hours were lost in disruptions.
“Now, ministers and officials are forced to make preparations for replying in Parliament. This is the strength of democracy. No words are enough to thank…,” he said.
The Prime Minister told the Congress that it was in power for long and that the NDA has got the opportunity now.
“Development in fits and starts is not enough. Such an approach will leave us far behind. We need to move from incremental to quantum jump,” he said.
The Prime Minister mocked the Congress for claiming ownership to the programmes of his dispensation.