(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 21, 2010
THE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT
RAJYA SABHA passed on March 9 the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill 2008, popularly called “Women’s Reservation Bill.” The earlier attempt to get the bill passed on March 8, the International Women’s Day, had failed as some fanatic members opposing the bill held the house to ransom. In the pandemonium, one of these members even attempted to cut his hand with a broken glass. These unruly members were ousted from the house by the marshals. The house imposed a ban these members’ entry for the entire budget session. Ultimately, the bill was adopted after its consideration clause by clause. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said they were very honoured to have enacted this legislation. Despite the fact that the ruling alliance does not have a two-thirds majority in this house, many others supported the enactment of this legislation.
A prominent speaker during the discussion on the Women’s Reservation Bill was Brinda Karat of the CPI(M). Elsewhere in this issue we are reproducing her speech.
What is significant to note is
that as usual the media, print as well as electronic, have ignored the
contribution of Left parties in this bill’s enactment in Rajya Sabha.
known that it is the Left parties that initiated the struggle for the
Reservation Bill, as they did for the National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act. But
the media completely blacked out the news, just as they did in case of
Lok Sabha has passed the general
budget 2010-11. During the discussion, P
Karunakaran of the CPI(M) expressing shock that the finance minister
a regressive step like hiking the petro prices. It will have a cascade
on the prices. Direct taxes are coming down and indirect taxes going
growth rate has declined from 7.22 to 6.7 per cent. Inflation has
from 9.12 to 11.1 per cent. Export growth is negative, import growth
declined and the current account balance has deteriorated. Agricultural
production has declined from 1.62 to 0.2 per cent. Prices of almost all
agricultural products and cash crops have gone down except rubber.
increase in the prices of inputs like seeds and fertilisers, in the
healthcare, medical transport, etc. Bank credit has increased three
who has benefited? After talking of the
government’s failure in procurement, faulty implementation of the
Commodities Act and the need of universalisation of PDS to control the
and mitigate hunger, the member referred to the Kerala situation, where
BPL families are getting rice at Rs 2 a kilo; the recent budget has
coverage to 35 lakh families. But there is 82 per cent reduction in the
of rice for APL families. The central government has to change the
with regard to the PDS. He said six per cent of GDP should have been
for education but it is only 3.23 per cent. For health, allocation
should be at
least three per cent of GDP, but it only 1.06 per cent. There is also
to increase the allocation for ICDS. The
member reiterated the demand for an IIT in Kerala that has a hundred
In Rajya Sabha, Saman Pathak,
CPI(M) drew attention To the hardships of tea garden workers and their
are facing. He said they are deprived of basic amenities needed for
being. The Plantation Labour Act was enacted in 1951 but it has failed
protect their interests. These workers
are being treated as bonded labourers. In tea gardens under private
in North Bengal, particularly
Through a special mention in the same house, P R Rajan, CPI(M), demanded restoration of rice quota for the APL people in Kerala. He said the allocation of rice for APL card holders there has been reduced from 1,13,420 to 17,056 metric tonnes against the requirement of 1,33,804 metric tonnes. The main reason attributed by the union government is the reduced off-take in earlier years. But now the off-take is almost 100 per cent. As Kerala agriculture is dominated by cash crops which contribute much foreign exchange to national exchequer and the food grains production is only 15 per cent of requirement, the centre is duty-bound to meet the food requirement of the people here. Rajan urged the government to at least restore the original APL rice quota for Kerala.
Matilal Sarkar, CPI(M), forcefully demanded a separate High Court for Tripura, saying it is long overdue. Tripura is the second biggest north-eastern state region in terms of population. Moreover, about 85 per cent of the population comprise the weaker sections of the people. But Guwahati, the headquarters of High Court, is very far from Tripura. The state has a bench of the High Court at Agartala but it is unable to cope with the growing number of litigations. Sarkar urged the government to expedite the process.
Moinul Hassan, CPI(M), raised serious allegations of corruption in the government agency for the Haj pilgrimage arrangements, describing the Haj committee as a mismanaged and failed institution. Right from 2002 till 2010, there has been no full-fledged Haj committee in India. Last year, news of sale of 3,000 seats appeared in many newspapers. These seats fell vacant due to the last minute cancellations by pilgrims. The convention in such a case is that seats are filled with the waitlisted candidates. In practice, each vacant seat was sold for Rs 25,000 to 40,000. Previously, private tour operators were involved but now a government agency is responsible for this type of corruption. Hassan urged the government to do something to stop it.