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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Lok Sabha: Oppn parties in slugfest over state issues

While an aggressive Congress slammed the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala over police crackdown against protestors in the state, the Opposition side saw divisions within, as TMC member Kalyan Banerjee tore into the Congress over the issue of migrant workers.

Written by Liz Mathew , Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi | September 20, 2020 2:47:36 am
Opp, states see new faultline: Centre usurps powers, weakens federalismParliamentarians in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in New Delhi. (Photo: LSTV via PTI)

With political heat in election-bound states rising, rivals in Kerala and West Bengal fought it out during Zero Hour in Lok Sabha on Saturday.

While an aggressive Congress slammed the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala over police crackdown against protestors in the state, the Opposition side saw divisions within, as TMC member Kalyan Banerjee tore into the Congress over the issue of migrant workers. The Congress, he asserted, has “betrayed migrant workers”.

Congress MP Rajmohan Unnithan sought the Centre’s attention into demands for a CBI probe into the murder of two Youth Congress workers in Kerala, even as his colleague and Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden asked the government to seek a report from the Governor on law and order situation in the state in the backdrop of police action on protesting Congress workers recently.

Unnithan said a division bench of Kerala High Court had upheld a single judge’s directive for a CBI probe into the murder of two YC workers in Kerala’s Periya. “But CBI is how winding up the case as the state government refused to cooperate with it,” he said and alleged that top leaders of the CPI(M) were involved in the conspiracy into the murders.

Eden said Congress leaders, including party MLAs, were beaten up by police this week during their protest against the gold smuggling case. “We all know about the case in which gold was smuggled through diplomatic baggage, and the Chief Minister’s Office is directly involved,” he maintained. “I urge the Centre to direct the Governor to furnish a detailed report on the law and order situation in the state. There should be a joint inquiry into the gold smuggling Scam.”

The NIA, ED and Customs department are investigating different aspects of the case.

For TMC, a question by Congress House leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury provoked Banerjee to launch a strong counter. Chowdhury asked why the Centre had excluded West Bengal from the list of states where returning migrant workers in 116 districts are being considered for jobs under the Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyan (GKRA).

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was in the House, replied that GKRA was launched on June 20 with an aim to provide jobs to migrants from 116 districts in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Jharkhand. “It was meant for districts where more than 25,000 migrants have returned…many states had sent the list of more districts after the initial launch but they were not accepted,” she said. But with West Bengal, no data was available, she added.

Trinamool member Kalyan Banerjee, who was not in the House at the time, came in a few minutes later and took permission from the Speaker and tore into the Congress: “The Congress had announced that the party would pay for migrant workers to return to their home states. But when workers from Congress-ruled Rajasthan returned (to Bengal), we had to pay Rs 36 lakh. But Congress leaders are giving sound bytes on the plight of workers in Delhi.”

Sumalatha Ambareesh, Independent member from Mandya (Karnataka) who was backed by the BJP, received applause from Opposition MPs from the southern states when she said, “We love Hindi, but we love our mother tongues more…. We fear that any attempt to impose Hindi would lead to decline of our regional languages,” she said.

She said the government’s flagship programmes and welfare schemes should also be explained in regional languages, and not only in Hindi. “Our precious past should be preserved for a beautiful future,” she said.

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