The Congress on Saturday said it will oppose the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill to replace the ordinance which was promulgated to allow Nripendra Misra to take over as Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sources said its floor leaders are seeking the views of opposition parties in Rajya Sabha where the Government is in a minority and may try to block its passage in the Upper House to embarrass the Government.
“I don’t think anyone in the opposition is going to oblige the Government. The mood of many of the opposition parties in Rajya Sabha seem to be not in favour of this,” said a top Congress leader who had preliminary exchanges with many party leaders. He, however, said the party is yet to formally explore the possibility of arriving at a common position with the rest of the opposition. The Congress stance came on a day the Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha amid strong opposition from the Trinamool Congress.
The Bill will sail through in Lok Sabha since the Government has a comfortable majority, but there could be hurdles in Rajya Sabha if the opposition parties come together. The BJP and its allies have 56 members in the Rajya Sabha out of the total 243. It can count on couple of independents and the likes of AIADMK, BJD and INLD, the combined strength of which is 20.
The Congress and its allies, on the other hand, have 83 members. Besides there are 10 nominated members, all of them brought into Rajya Sabha by the UPA government. And if the Left, JD(U), Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and BSP come together, there will be trouble for the Government. Between them, these parties have 59 seats and together they will be well above the half-way mark.
The Government had issued an ordinance on May 28 to amend section 5(8) in the TRAI Act which barred any post-retirement government job for (the) “chairperson or any other member ceasing to hold office”.
The amended section now reads as: “The chairperson and the whole-time members shall not, for a period of two years from the date on which they cease to hold office as such, except with the previous approval of the Central government, accept “(a) any employment either under the Central government or under any state government; or “(b) any appointment in any company in the business of telecommunication service.” Misra, a UP-cadre IAS officer of the 1967 batch, was chairman of TRAI from March 2006 to 2009.
In the Lok Sabha today, Trinamool leader Saugata Roy objected to the Bill saying it violated the rules of procedures. His contention was that law is being amended to “merely to give a government job to a superannuated TRAI Chairman, thereby continued…