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Locked in a confrontation with the government over its demand for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in in Parliament for participation in a discussion on currency withdrawal, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said Tuesday the PM’s decision not to “show up” and “speak” in Parliament was simply baffling.
“Today, he addressed BJP MPs at the Parliament library. He has been addressing them every Tuesday. He also speaks outside the House almost regularly,” Azad said. “But he will neither come to the House nor speak. It is baffling. In my long political career, I have seen and worked with 11 prime ministers. I have worked as a minister with four prime ministers. I have not seen this kind of attitude by any of them or such contempt for Parliament,” he told The Indian Express.
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He said prime ministers in the past used to come to the House and intervene or speak if the Opposition demanded it persistently. “Some used to come after hours, some maybe after a day… But now the Opposition has been demanding it in unison for the last several days… but Prime Minister Modi has made it a point not to come to the House. He seems to have taken it as a prestige issue. This attitude does not augur well for parliamentary democracy,” he said.
The Congress also stepped up its attack on the Prime Minister over the scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. The party’s communication department head Randeep Surjewala mocked the government for announcing the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana saying it is in effect a “kaladhan dharak kalyan yojana”.
He said the government is now proposing to levy 49.9 per cent as tax, penalty and cess on undisclosed income whereas according to section 271 (1) (C) (iii) of the Income Tax Act, the penalty for undisclosed income was as high as 132 per cent.
“This is Prime Minister Modi and his government’s commitment to root out black money. And to avoid questions in Parliament… the government declared the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill as a money bill and passed it without a debate… This is the real face of Prime Minister Modi,” he said. “What happened today was travesty of constitutional propriety by a finance minister who claims to have intricate knowledge of law. That is why it becomes doubly culpable.”
Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev called it the prime minister’s Krackjack or 50-50 moment. “It is a smokescreen. The tax bracket of 132 per cent has been brought down to 50 per cent,” she said. “It is the Krackjack or 50-50 moment of the government. He has let [alone] those people who have hoarded black money by taking a share of 50 per cent from them.