July 29, 2016 12:46:10 am
Opposition members forced three adjournments in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday as they raised slogans in the Well of the House against making Aadhaar card mandatory for availing government benefits like subsidised LPG, PDS supplies and pensions.
Even as the government assured that Aadhaar card would not be made mandatory for availing such benefits till everyone had been covered under the UIDAI (Unique Identity Authority of India), opposition members continued to protest.
During Zero Hour, the House was initially adjourned for half an hour till noon, and then for around 15 minutes soon after Question Hour had begun. After the House met again, it was adjourned till 2 pm.
When the House assembled in the morning, Naresh Agrawal of the Samajwadi Party, Derek O’Brien of the TMC and Dilip Tirkey of the BJD said they had given notices under Rule 267 for suspension of business to take up the issue, which found support from the Left parties and Congress. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, however, said their motion had not been permitted.
Ram Gopal Yadav of the SP said the Centre had instructed state governments to stop ration card benefits, pensions and subsidised LPG to those who did not have Aadhaar cards. The move would deal a blow to the poor with as much as 40 per cent of the population not holding Aadhaar cards, he said.
Calling it a “big issue” which affected the entire country, O’ Brien said, “The government talks of cooperative federalism, but when they take action, they don’t listen to the states.”
Replying during Zero Hour, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “It is definitely an important and serious issue, and we have taken notice of it.” He added, “It (Aadhaar) is not compulsory. If necessary, instructions will be issued.”
According to SP’s Agrawal, the Centre had sent three department orders asking state governments to stop supply under PDS to those ration card holders who did not have Aadhaar cards.
Sukhendu Roy of TMC sought to know whether the government was aware of the October 2015 Supreme Court order that Aadhaar should be voluntary. “While a Central government proviso exempts those who applied for an Aadhaar card but did not get it, would those who failed to apply for reasons of poverty or ignorance also be exempted?” he asked.
Amidst the din, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Assam had been granted exemption from Aadhaar-based transfer of benefits and a similar request from Mizoram, where only 55 per cent people have got Aadhaar cards, is under consideration. He also alleged that a group of middlemen was trying to prevent Aadhaar cards being issued to all beneficiaries. Those who have not got Aadhaar cards have been asked to get them in next three months, after which their LPG subsidy would be “parked” separately. “It is not being cut,” Pradhan said.
Due to unabated protests, Kurien adjourned the House for half an hour till noon. When Question Hour began, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in attendance, members of the Congress, TMC, SP and JD(U) entered the Well shouting slogans and forcing another adjournment of 15 minutes.
With protests unabated, Chairman Hamid Ansari again adjourned the House till 2 pm.
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