The otherwise noisy first day of the session was subdued on Monday, but opposition parties put their objections to the government’s attempts on “coercive federalism” and “misuse of Presidential powers on issuing ordinances” forcefully.
Opposition members from the Congress and the TMC expressed objections to the government’s move to do away with Question Hour and the issuing of ordinances during the lockdown period.
Opposing Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s move to withdraw the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, N K Premachandran of RSP pointed out that the Bill was introduced in the House on March 3, but an ordinance was promulgated on June 26.
He said: “Normally an ordinance is promulgated only in extraordinary situations…. When the government makes a legislative proposal, the long-term interest of society has to be taken into account. She brought the Bill without applying legislative wisdom. So lack of seriousness on the part of government in legislative process is well proved in this case.”
He argued that the government has taken Presidential powers for granted.
Heat set to rise as key issues come up
While the opening day saw relatively subdued business in Lok Sabha, proposed discussions on the LAC/border row with China, the economic slowdown and migrant workers’ crisis could raise the heat in coming days. The Opposition seems to have accounted for this, with several younger MPs — or what is called the “shouting brigade” — seated in the chamber, so that they can raise issues. Or rush to the Well in protest, if the need arises.
Sitharaman countered saying the ordinance was brought in as several cooperative banks were facing stress during the pandemic. “But what we are bringing, after withdrawing that Bill which came in the form of ordinance, is essentially what the Bill of March 2020 had, together with a few things added — such as giving Reserve Bank (of India) a chance to be able to restructure any distressed cooperative banks in case they are in severe distress,” she said.
Opposing introduction of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill,
Congress’s Gaurav Gogoi said it deregulates certain commodities, thus depriving state governments of this control. He said, “This deprivation of this essential responsibility comes without any consultation with states. This impingement on state powers without any consultation renders the Bill ultra vires.”
TMC’s Sougata Roy called it “coercive federalism” by the Centre.” Pointing out that states had the power to regulate stocks, he said: “It was necessary for avoiding hoarding and blackmarketing or seasonal shortages during floods or droughts. This power was wholly with the state government. Now, this power is being taken over by the Central Government, and powers of state governments to regulate have been circumscribed.”
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor opposed the move to introduce The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, saying that it violates basic tenets of federalism because agriculture is in the state list.