Budget session significant, fruitful

Budget session significant, fruitful

The first phase of the current Budget session of Parliament has just concluded. Of all the sessions of Parliament that we have had since our...

Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu, the Union Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Parliamentary Affairs, says this budget session has been very significant on many counts. A spirit of camaraderie is discernible.

Opposition could raise its voice on many issues, and the government, too, could make its views heard. The passage of Real Estate Bill saw both the opposition and the government give credit to each other. This and Aadhaar Bill passage are major outcomes of the session. Parliament also could carry out some other important legislations, says a satisfied Venkaiah in an exclusive interview to The Hans India

How do you view the first-half of the just concluded Budget session?
The first phase of the current Budget session of Parliament has just concluded. Of all the sessions of Parliament that we have had since our assumption of office in May 2014, this Budget session has been the most significant and rewarding on several counts. This session gave me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment because it has given us some of the key takeaways.

This session saw Rajya Sabha witnessing a rare occasion of the opposition and treasury benches giving credit to each other for introducing and piloting the Real Estate Bill. The manner in which the bill was passed in Upper House clearly highlighted what the highest legislature of the land could do to further the aspirations of the people.

The spirit of camaraderie demonstrated in the Upper House underlined what we could do collectively for the betterment of the lives of the people. This session witnessed both Houses deliberating on issues relating to women and most of the female Members were given time to participate on that day. In fact, the discussion on Motion of Thanks in Lok Sabha this time was initiated and seconded by lady Members only.

People have not taken kindly to the disruptions in the House in the recent times. As Parliamentary Affairs Minister how do you feel about it?
This Budget session is happening against the backdrop of increased public and political demand for a productive session. In various meetings at the level of PM, Vice-President, Speaker and the all-party meeting convened by me ahead of this Budget session, serious concern was expressed over persistent disruptions over the last two sessions of Parliament.

Public was getting restive over the functioning of the highest legislature of the land. I am sure this has impact on the conduct of the parties concerned which ultimately is resulting in the smooth running of the house. During this session, both the Houses have already discussed the issues relating to the incidents in JNU and Hyderabad Central University.

Both the houses have passed the Motion of Thanks to the President for his Address to the both the Houses of Parliament. Some important legislative work has also been transacted including the Passage of Real Estate Regulation Bill, Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, and The Carriage by Air Bill and a Bill regarding anomalies in the salaries and allowances of judges.

So could we say it is 'work in progress' now?
Lok Sabha discussed one calling attention motion, Rajya Sabha has discussed two. So, work is in progress and that is how it should be. Parliament should discuss all such issues and move ahead, showing the way forward to the government of the day and for the country as such. I always believe in this principle: I propose, You oppose, Let the House dispose.

As far as the government is concerned, we are willing to enable discussion on any issue that the opposition wants to be discussed so as to voice their concerns, and rightly so. We are not averse to discussing any issue as I always maintained. It is from debates that all related issues will come in the public domain. Government also gets an opportunity to speak its point of view. Public will come to know of various dimensions of the issues being raised.

We have given effective responses on all the issues that the opposition has raised. JNU incident raised some serious issues. Universities, the highest seats of learning, are supposed to be the breeding grounds for reason, responsibility and maturity instead of pioneering anti-national activities. This message has effectively gone out in the public domain as a result of some opposition parties seeking to make a political capital out of it.

We have no problem with discussion on any such issue. But it becomes a matter of concern when the government of the day is targeted for no reason by allowing free play for politics. In the process, country’s image and standing should not be dented. Dissent has a certain place in democracy – but not disruption and disintegration of institutions.

One can criticise the State which is only a component of the nation. Upholding nationalism is the solemn duty of all citizens. None can afford to compromise on this.

What is your take on the Budgets - both General and Railway - this time? Are they people-friendly and poor-oriented? Do they augur well for you take the country on the path of progress?
The government has presented path-breaking General and Railway Budgets, which is the main function of any Budget session.

The General and the Railway budgets reflected the government’s commitment to trigger economic growth through inclusive development, and they were widely welcomed. The Budget is for Gao, Garib, Kisan, Mazdoor, Women and Yuva. It has laid out a road map for all-round development of the country based on 9 pillars prioritised for investment and 9 elements of tax reforms.

Agriculture sector, rural development, social sector including health and education, infrastructure and recapitalisation of public sector banks have been rightly identified as priorities. The long overdue emphasis on farm sector in the General Budget was well received. By providing 100% deduction from taxation of profits on construction of affordable housing, the budget aims to achieve the Prime Minister’s dream of “Housing For All” by 2022. Also, the Railway has clearly outlined the efforts to ensure professional management of the vast system. It rightly placed emphasis on improving customer satisfaction ranging from the infant babies to senior citizens.

How important is the Real Estate Bill for your government?
Passing of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill was the next important outcome of this part of the session. Finally, this important legislation enabling regulation to the real estate sector has been cleared after a long delay of five years. In fact, I was moved by the responses of the public on social media soon after Rajya Sabha cleared the Bill. Many of them posted that they rejoiced at that historic moment and some were overwhelmed with emotions.

I understand such reactions as cries of joy after having gone through the pain of waiting for long to get their due and finally, the moment of restoring order in the real estate sector becoming a reality. Also, this session saw the Lower House passing The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, which aims to ensure targeted services to intended

beneficiaries by assigning them unique identity numbers. I would rate
these two legislations at the top of the major outcomes of this session so far. By passing these two legislations, the Parliament has enabled the beginning of a new era of transparent governance in the country.

Is the amendment to the Motion of Thanks by the Rajya Sabha a setback to your government as the Congress claims?
The amendment moved by the Congress to the Motion of Thanks to the President's address in Rajya Sabha is an embarrassment to the Opposition, particularly the Congress, and not to the NDA government as being made out by that party and a section of the media.

Where is the question of management if some parties are determined to pursue a political line and any amount of management would not help? Also the fact that but for the amendment Rajya Sabha approved the whole of the President's speech is a compliment to the government's line. Is not it so?

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