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Parliament Winter Session Highlights: Spoke 20 minutes on onion prices, but called elitist over one remark, says Sitharaman

Parliament Winter Session: Responding to criticism a day after she said her family “has little to do with onions”, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Rajya Sabha, said she was called an "elitist"

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 5, 2019 8:07:39 pm
nirmala sitharaman, finance minister, parliament winter session, parliament winter session 2019, parliament live, parliament session, parliament session 2019, parliament session today, parliament session live, parliament session live news, parliament session live, parliament session live today, parliament winter session today live, indian express Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (File/PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)

Parliament Winter Session: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Thursday said the government’s decision to lower corporate tax was not just “good PR or good for headlines,” but signified the government’s commitment to good reforms.

The Rajya Sabha approved the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, replacing ordinance used to slash corporate tax rate. Sitharaman said computer software development, mining, printing of books not to be treated as manufacturing for lower tax.

Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the party will oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Parliament. “Congress party is against any form of discrimination against anybody in this country. So anybody who discriminates against anybody who is Indian, we are against them. That is our line. We believe that India belongs to everybody– all communities, all religions, all cultures,” he told reporters in Kerala’s Kozhikode.

The Union Cabinet Wednesday cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that aims to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bill, however, grants an exemption to a large part of the North East region from the applicability of the proposed law.

Meanwhile, Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, who came out of Tihar jail after being granted bail in the INX Media money laundering case, said that the government cannot suppress his voice in the Parliament.

Reacting to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remark on onions. “Finance Minister said yesterday that she doesn’t eat onions. So what does she eat? Does she eat avocado?” he asked.

Chidambaram’s reaction came a day after Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha that she belongs to a family “that has little to do with onions”.

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Rajya Sabha approved Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, replacing ordinance used to slash corporate tax rate.

Highlights

    20:00 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    1,342 girls among 2,279 children adopted in 2019-20: Smriti Irani

    As many as 2,279 children, including 1,342 girls, were adopted in 2019-20, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said on Thursday. Of the 2,279 children, as many as 2,004 were adopted within the country and 275 by people from other countries, Irani said in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

    She said 16 complaints about illegal activities at specialised adoption agencies were reported between 2016 and 2019. In 2018-19, 4,027 children were adopted in which about 3,374 children were adopted within the country while 653 inter-country adoptions were made, the data said.

    In 2017-18, as many as 3,927 children were adopted while in 2016-17, a total of 3,788 children were adopted. In 2015-16, a total of 3,677 children were adopted.

    A total of 65,056 children are presently residing in various children homes, specialised adoption agencies and open shelters, she said. (PTI)

    19:21 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Congress not serious on framers' plight: Jagdambika Pal

    A BJP member in Lok Sabha on Thursday accused the Congress of not being serious on the plight of farmers, pointing at the near-empty opposition benches during a discussion on crop loss.

    When members were participating in the discussion on "crop loss due to various reasons and its impact on farmers", Jagdambika Pal said Congress members were not serious on the issue.

    "Not even one member is present," Pal said pointing at the opposition benches. A few Congress and other opposition members were present in the House. The Congress members present raised their hands to reject Pal's claim. Not many members were present in the House during the course of the debate.

    19:01 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    When fares rise steeply, govt sensitises airlines for 'necessary intervention': Puri

    Airfares are neither established nor regulated by the government but in case there is a steep rise in ticket prices, then airlines are sensitised for "necessary intervention", Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday.

    The minister's comments in the Lok Sabha came in response to queries on whether the government is aware that airlines are charging exorbitant ticket rates during the peak season and any proposal to fix a maximum price for each destination.

    Noting that airfares are neither established nor regulated by the government, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation said prices are fixed by airlines keeping in mind the market, demand, seasonality and other factors.

    "The fare structures are displayed by airlines on their websites. The airlines remain compliant to the prevailing regulation as long as airfares charged by them are in line with fare displayed on their websites," he said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

    19:00 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    BJP issues three line whip to its Lok Sabha MPs for 9th to 11th December.

    Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) issues three line whip to its Lok Sabha MPs for 9th December to 11th December. 

    18:38 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Rajya Sabha nod to lower corporate tax rates

    The Rajya Sabha on Thursday gave its consent to the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, replacing an ordinance that was used to slash corporate tax rates to stimulate growth.

    The Lok Sabha has already passed the bill and the Upper House cleared the legislation with voice vote without any changes. As per rules, the Rajya Sabha cannot amend money bills but can recommend amendments.

    A money bill must be returned to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, or the bill is deemed to have passed both houses in the form it was originally passed by the Lok Sabha.

    18:11 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Rajya Sabha approves Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019

    Rajya Sabha approves Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, replacing ordinance used to slash corporate tax rate.

    18:07 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    No harassment by tax authorities should take place, but no wrongdoer can be let go: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

    Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Thursday said the lower 15 per cent tax rate for new manufacturing companies will not apply to computer software development, mining and printing of books. No harassment by tax authorities should take place, but no wrongdoer can be let go, she also said.

    She was replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that replaces the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, promulgated on September 20, 2019, to cut the base corporate tax rate.

    The amendment carries a negative list of industries that will not qualify for lower tax rate meant for manufacturing companies set up on or after October 1, 2019 but that begin production before 2023, she said.

    The negative list includes computer software development, mining and printing of books as they are not manufacturing per se, the minister added.

    18:06 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Spoke for 20 minutes on onion prices, but called elitist over one remark: Sitharaman

    Responding to criticism a day after she said her family “has little to do with onions”, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Rajya Sabha, said she was called an "elitist" and criticised for her remark without taking into consideration the context.Sitharaman said she spoke extensively on the measures  the government is taking to  tackle the rising onion prices but was criticised on a remark taken out of context.

    17:57 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Arun Singh elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha from UP

    BJP national general secretary Arun Singh was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. Singh had filed his nomination papers on December 2 for the Rajya Sabha by-election, which was necessitated following the resignation of Samajwadi Party member Tazeen Fatma, who is now the MLA from Rampur.

    According to the Election Commission, the last day of scrutiny of nomination papers was December 3 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature was December 5.

    Returning officer Brijbhushan Dubey handed over the election certificate of Singh to state BJP vice president JPS Rathore. (PTI)

    17:56 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    If there's decline in automobile sales, why is there traffic on roads: BJP MP

    Virendra Singh Mast, BJP MP in Lok Sabha: To defame the nation and government people are saying that the automobile sector has slowed down. If there is a decline in automobile sales then why are there traffic jams on the roads?

    17:53 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    High-level meeting on rising onion prices underway

    Union Home Minister Amit Shah chairs a Group of Ministers meeting on rising onion prices. Union Ministers Piyush Goyal, Narendra Singh Tomar and Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba and Advisor to PM PK Sinha present

    17:50 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Good reforms to boost economy will continue: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

    Good reforms to boost economy will continue: FM Nirmala Sitharaman replying to debate on legislation for lowering corporate tax rate

    17:29 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Govt finalising rules to mandate social media firms to remove child sexual abuse, terrorism content

    The government on Thursday said it is working on rules to mandate social media companies to identify and remove child sexual abuse material, rape images and content promoting terrorism without affecting privacy.

    Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Rajya Sabha that the government has invited public comments on its draft of amendments to the Intermediary Rules 2011 and has received public inputs on the same.

    "The amendments inter alia propose that intermediaries should proactively identify and remove child sexual abuse material, rape/gang-rape imagery and contents promoting terrorism without compromising accuracy or privacy using technology-based tools and mechanism. The rules are presently being finalised," Prasad said.

    He said the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, has adequate provisions for removal of objectionable online content. "Social media platforms are intermediaries as defined in the Act," the minister said.

    17:23 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Air India received Rs 30,520 cr equity infusion from FY'12 onwards: Govt

    Debt-laden Air India has received an equity infusion of Rs 30,520.21 crore from financial year 2011-12 till date, the government said on Thursday and reiterated that it is committed to the disinvestment of the national carrier.

    In April 2012, the then central government had approved a Turnaround Plan (TAP)/ Financial Restructuring Plan (FRP) for reviving Air India, which has been in the red since merger of Indian Airlines in 2007-08.

    To prepare for the disinvestment, the government is implementing a strategic plan, which includes a financial package and focus on increasing operational efficiencies, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday.

    The major components of the financial package for 2018-19 included a cash support of Rs 3,975 crore to Air India, inclusive of Rs 1,630 crore already infused in the airline in 2018-19.

    Another component was for providing a "government guarantee of Rs 7,600 crore, inclusive of Rs 3,000 crore already provided to Air India in 2018-19, to raise new debt for payment of stretched liabilities".

    17:11 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Govt committed to protecting citizens' right to privacy, reports of surveillance misleading: Prasad

    The government is committed to protecting the fundamental right of its citizens to privacy and reports of surveillance of citizens are completely misleading, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

    Replying to a query on safety of citizen's data during Question Hour, the Electronics and IT minister said the government operates strictly according to provisions of law and laid down protocol.

    "There are adequate safeguards to ensure that no innocent citizen is harassed or his or her privacy breached... The government is committed to protecting the fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy," he said.

    Prasad said that are media reports about UK-based research firm Comparitech highlighting that India ranks behind only Russia and China when it comes to surveillance of citizens.

    "From the media reports, the basis on which such a conclusion is drawn, appears flimsy and questionable. Absence of data protection bill and a data protection authority as regulator has been cited but there are suitable provisions under the IT Act and work is in progress to bring in a law for data protection," he said. (PTI)

    17:10 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Fee hike in JNU to meet increased expenditure on maintenance of hostels: HRD Minister

    HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank" told Parliament on Thursday that the fee hike in JNU was effected in order to meet the increased expenditure on maintenance of hostels and to run those on a "no-profit-no-loss" basis.

    In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha over the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) hostel fee hike, which has led to an agitation by students, the minister said the university increased the room rents after around 40 years.

    "JNU has informed that in order to meet the increased expenditure on the maintenance of hostels and to run them on a no profit no loss basis, it has increased room rents after about forty years," he said. Earlier, the rent was Rs 10 and Rs 20 for double and single-occupancy rooms respectively. (PTI)

    16:12 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Tehseen Poonawalla stages solo protest outside Parliament over soaring onion price, whisked away by cops

    Political analyst Tehseen Poonawalla started a solo protest outside the Parliament Complex at Vijay Chowk against Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over rising onion prices but was whisked away by police.

    As he was protesting in the media parking at Vijay Chowk, policemen surrounded him and took him to Jantar Mantar as mediapersons jostled to capture the development.

    He was taken to Jantar Mantar by the police from where he later left. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on Wednesday said in the Lok Sabha that the government had taken several steps to check rising prices of onion and also initiated steps to improve technology for better storage of the kitchen staple.

    16:11 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    I'm a vegetarian, I don't know: Union minister Ashwini Choubey on rising onion prices
    16:11 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Parliament committee on women empowerment holds meeting with Facebook representatives on cyber crime

    Parliamentary Standing Committee on Women Empowerment is holding a meeting with representatives of Facebook group (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) at Parliament House Annexe building in view of rising crime against women on social media. Cyber harassment and cyber bullying to be discussed

    15:45 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Mere arrests not enough, need to send signal to entire country: RS chairman Naidu on rape cases

    Rajya Sabha Chairman & Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu: What is needed, is not mere arrest in one case. We must send out a signal to the entire country & society that in such incidents action should be taken promptly, swiftly, and adequately, so these things are not repeated again.

    15:20 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    States should come up with action plan to curb digital banking fraud: LS speaker

    Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday said the states should come up with an action plan to curb the rising incidents of digital banking frauds in the country after a Member of Parliament raised the issue in the House.

    Raising the issue during the Zero Hour, Arvind Kumar Sharma of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on one hand the nation was moving towards Digital India while on the other hand, such fraudulent activities were taking place.

    "In digital banking, frauds are taking place through different apps like Paytm.... Every day frauds are taking place...and the police does not even register an FIR," he said. (PTI)

    15:00 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Does she eat avocado: Congress on FM's onion remark

    Hitting out at finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman over her remark that she belongs to a family “that has little to do with onions”, Congress leader P Chidambaram asked if the FM eats "avocado".

    "Finance Minister said yesterday that she doesn't eat onions, so what does she eat? Does she eat avocado?" he said

    14:11 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Cong will oppose Citizenship (Amendment) bill in Parliament: Rahul Gandhi

    Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the party will oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill aimed at providing citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. His statement comes as the bill, which has created strong resentment in the Northeastern states, is set to be tabled in Parliament. "Congress party is against any form of discrimination against anybody in this country. So anybody who discriminates against anybody who is Indian, we are against them. That is our line. We believe that India belongs to everybody-- all communities, all religions, all cultures," Gandhi told reporters. (PTI)

    14:07 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Rajya Sabha adjourned after uproar

    Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2:37 pm after uproar in the House by opposition over Unnao rape survivor set ablaze

    14:01 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha resume

    Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings resume after lunch

    13:35 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Naidu pulls up MPs for low attendance in parliamentary panels

    Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu pulled up MPs of both Houses for their low attendance in parliamentary standing committees' meetings and urged the leaders of all political parties to ensure "quantitative and qualitative functioning" of these panels. After holding a meeting with chairpersons of these panels in the morning, Naidu said only 18 members each from both houses of Parliament attended eight Rajya Sabha committees' meetings since being reconstituted in September this year. Sharing concern about the functioning of these committees in the Upper House, Naidu said, "I expect the number of members of this House with full attendance in the meetings of the committees to rise." Each member of the department-related standing committee represents 25 members of Parliament while deliberating in the committee. If one member is absent, the voice of 25 MPs would not be heard, according to Naidu. "I, hence, appeal to leaders of all the parties and members of this august House to ensure quantitative and qualitative functioning of these committees in whom the Parliament has vested an important responsibility of functioning on its behalf," he added. (PTI)

    13:14 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    AAP to oppose Citizenship Bill

    The Aam Aadmi Party will oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Parliament, party leader Sanjay Singh said.

    13:07 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Lok Sabha adjourned

    Lok Sabha adjourned till 2:00 pm

    13:03 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Rajya Sabha adjourned

    Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2:00 pm

    12:50 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    GDP not something we need to worry about: BJP leader Rao Inderjit Singh

    "GDP is not something we need to worry about because it can go up in the next quarter," says BJP leader Rao Inderjit Singh.

    12:47 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    LS discusses the reasons for changing of GDP base year

    Lok Sabha discusses the reasons for changing of GDP base year, during Question Hour.

    12:43 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    PM Modi tweets, 'met SL Bhyrappa Ji, Chandrashekhar Kambara Ji'

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met Padma Shri S L Bhyrappa and Jnanpith Award recipient Chandrashekhar Kambara in the Parliament. "Interacting with these intellectual doyens is wonderful. Their strong passion towards literature and culture is clearly visible," he tweeted.

    12:10 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Rajya Sabha proceedings begin

    Proceedings of the Rajya Sabha began with the Question Hour after being adjourned for an hour over uproar in the House.

    12:01 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Chidambaram reacts to Nirmala Sitharaman's comment on onions

    Former finance minister P Chidambaram reacted to FinanceMinister Nirmala Sitharaman's comments on not eating onions. "Finance Minister said yesterday that she doesn't eat onions. So what does she eat? Does she eat avocado?" he asked reporters in the Parliament premises.

    11:51 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Rajya Sabha adjourned till noon

    Rajya Sabha was adjourned till noon as the chairman disallowed the Opposition members, especially from the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, from raising issues not listed for Zero Hour. After laying papers and parliamentary standing committee reports in the Upper House, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu announced setting up of an informal group to look into Internet pornography issues and prepare a report within a month. As soon as the chair called a member to ask Zero Hour questions, Trinamool Congress member Derek O'Brien raised a point of order and sought to know why no calling attention and short duration discussions were listed in the business during this week. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, too, expressed concern over the issue and said it had not happened last week as well and two discussions should be scheduled for next week. To which, the Chair said the minister concerned said he was unwell and, hence, requested to postpone the discussion for next week and assured it would be held on Tuesday. (PTI)

    11:39 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Govt cannot suppress my voice in Parliament: Chidambaram

    Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who arrived in Parliament on Thursday after spending 106 days in Tihar jail, said the government will not be able to suppress his voice in the House. Speaking to reporters in the Parliament complex while joining other Congress MPs protesting against the steep hike in onion prices, Chidambaram said he will address the media in the afternoon. "I am happy to be back. The government cannot suppress my voice in Parliament," he said. (PTI)

    11:18 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Cong protests at Parliament premises over rising onion prices

    Congress leaders P Chidambaram, who is out on bail after 106 days in jail, Adhir Chowdhury, Gaurav Gogoi and others protested at the Parliament premises on Thursday against rising onion prices. Holding banners and shouting slogans demanding that the government reduce the prices and "stop harassing" the poor, the Congress MPs protested with a basket full of onions. (PTI)

    11:18 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    LS discusses conversion of National Highways into four and six lane

    Lok Sabha discusses the conversion of National Highways into four and six lanes, during Question Hour

    11:16 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    CAB a commitment from BJP to persecuted minorities from Aghanistan-Pak-Bangladesh: Ram Madhav

    BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav on Thursday said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was a commitment given by the party to the persecuted minorities from Afghanistan-Pakistan-Bangladesh, hitting out at the "bleeding hearts" who were complaining about the bill. "It was passed by the last Lok Sabha but couldn't reach RS and lapsed. A revised bill is coming. Upholding India's tradition to shelter the persecuted in the neighbourhood," he tweeted. "For all others about whom the bleeding hearts' are complaining, Indian citizenship laws are there. Naturalized citizenship is an option for others who legally claim Indian citizenship. All other illegals will be infiltrators. No country in the world accepts illegal migrants," he said. (PTI)

    11:14 (IST)05 Dec 2019
    Rajya Sabha adjourned till 12 pm

    Rajya Sabha adjourned till 12:00 pm after uproar during Zero Hour

    parliament winter session, parliament winter session 2019, parliament live, parliament session, parliament session 2019, parliament session today, parliament session live, parliament session live news, parliament session live, parliament session live today, parliament winter session today live, indian express **EDS: TV GRAB** New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu conducts proceedings of the House during the Winter Session of Parliament in New Delhi.

    According to the Bill cleared by the Cabinet, states in the North East region that have Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime and tribal areas that have been notified under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution shall be out of the purview of the proposed Act.

    The new Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has also clearly defined who will be considered an illegal immigrant, has set the cut-off date for entry into India to December 31, 2014 and inserted a specific clause to grant a hearing to an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) before his/her card is cancelled for reasons specified in the law.

    The Bill has made it clear that the new law would not be applicable to Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram (they have ILP regime) and Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura (Mizoram too has Sixth Schedule areas).

    “Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under ‘The Inner Line’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873,” the Bill states.

    On the other hand, the Rajya Sabha Wednesday passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019, paving the way to give property rights to nearly 40 lakh people living in 1,731 unauthorised colonies in Delhi.

    The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last week.

    Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the government had identified the unauthorised colonies, on the basis of the findings of a cell, set up after notification in 2008.

    Puri said, “When one regularises something which is patently or prima facie illegal, the process is a little different. An effective way of dealing with the residents of these colonies would be to confer, as a one-time exception, rights based on five documents which should be in their possession to make a one-time exception.”

    The Delhi Development Authority is mapping the colonies and Puri said he hoped the uploading of maps would be done “within a matter of days”.

    Congress leader Kumari Selja, while supporting the Bill, said it was “a political stunt” done “keeping in mind the upcoming elections,” and asked the government if there was a long-term plan.

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