Hollywood movies and Bollywood songs entered a debate on Finance Bill in Rajya Sabha Monday as Opposition members took up issues ranging from taxation and political funding to “anti-Romeo” squads in UP. In a debate initiated by Kapil Sibal (Congress), MPs also used expressions such as “totalitarian state”, “Amiri hatao”, “bypass surgery of legislative process” and “Corporates ka saath, Corporates ka vikas”.
Attacking the government for 40 changes in the Finance Bill, particularly the one linking Aadhar to filing of tax returns, Sitaram Yechury (CPM) referred to Tony Scott’s Enemy of the State. “We thought it was in the realm of science fiction how common students were harassed because of surveillance in the United States… we thought that that sort of a state of affairs will not come when the entire personal liberty of a individual is at stake in the hands of the government…” he said. “I go back to the second film, the cult film which is called The Matrix, where you have a number… You understand the mathematical matrix where each one of us has a number and we are all slotted into one matrix. The controller, sitting there, shall control what you and I will do and what is our individual role in society, and if we are found violative, we are just ejected from the matrix. Your number can just vanish. An Aadhaar number can just vanish and that means, you are not a citizen any more. What are you reducing the Republic of India to?”
As Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool) finished his speech, Jairam Ramesh (Congress) asked him to sing a song since his speech is incomplete without a reference to Naushad, Sahir Ludhianavi or Mohammed Rafi. Roy obliged, singing Sahir’s Pyar kiya to darna kya. “Pyar kiya to darna kya,” Yechury agreed, “but after this bill you will have to fear.” He was referring to alleged “snooping” on even private expenditure of people.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien joined in, saying what is there to fear if one has loved.
Later, Naresh Agrawal (SP) said, “In our state an anti-Romeo squad is now operating. It is not known from where this word Romeo has come. We have started putting laws even on love now.”
Earlier, Sibal said linking Aadhaar to filing of tax returns amounts to “snooping” on people’s lives. By giving “unbridled power” to taxmen, he said, the government had sought to create “an atmosphere of fear” in the minds of business people. He accused the government of trying to create “some sort of a totalitarian state”. “There are provisions which allow the government to snoop into the lives of the citizens. Some people in the government may well be experienced with snooping but this is a very disturbing trend,” Sibal said. He asked the government not to “unleash this terror regime and make people live in fear”.
He said development for this government only means development of a communal agenda, alleged the government has done away with the cap on contributions from companies to parties “merely to see that they contribute to the kitty of the ruling party”, and the provision to amend the Companies Act was “surreptitiously brought in the garb of the Finance Bill”, which he said amounts to “muffling the voice” of Rajya Sabha.
Agrawal accused the government of bringing the slogan ‘Amiri Hatao’, Roy accused it of “bypass surgery of legislative process” and Yechury called the Finance Bill a “finance bully”. D Raja (CPI) accused the government of favouring “Corporates ka Saath, Corporates ka Vikas”.
Bhupender Yadav (BJP) said electoral bonds and the limit on the ceiling on cash donation will bring transparency in the functioning of political parties.