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Bill to give more power to Delhi L-G introduced in Rajya Sabha, to be discussed today

“It is a Bill to steal the powers of an elected government and destroy democracy,” Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said as the Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha, a day after it was passed by Lok Sabha.

Amidst protests by the Opposition, Rajya Sabha was adjourned on Tuesday shortly after Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill that seeks to enhance the powers of Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (L-G).

“It is a Bill to steal the powers of an elected government and destroy democracy,” Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said as the Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha, a day after it was passed by Lok Sabha.

The House was adjourned briefly twice before Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahalad Joshi said that a consensus was reached among leaders of all parties that the Bill will be discussed on Wednesday.

The Bill seeks to amend the Government of NCT of Delhi (NCTD) Act, 1991, which was enacted to “supplement provisions of the Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for the National Capital Territory of Delhi”.

Before its introduction, the Rajya Sabha returned appropriation Bills for the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry through a voice vote. The appropriation Bills authorise payment of certain sums for the union territories from the Consolidated Fund of India for the year 2021-2022.

Since the two Bills are classified as money Bills, they are only discussed and cleared in the upper house, and do not require to be passed by the Rajya Sabha. The two Bills were passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

While replying to the debate on the appropriation Bills, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur criticised the Delhi government for reducing the minimum age for liquor consumption from 25 years to 21 years. “This is done to increase revenue but for such a small government… the spending on advertisements is over Rs 500 crore,” Thakur said.

He also defended the budget allocation for Jammu and Kashmir and said steps were being taken to revive tourism in the union territory. “For 70 years the state suffered terrorism which the Narendra Modi government sought to end by abrogating Article 370. The same government will also revive tourism,” he said.

Thakur also told the House that Rs 512 crore had been allocated for tourism in Jammu and Kashmir and that its budget saw an increase of 7 per cent this year compared to last year.

During the discussion on the appropriation Bills, Congress MP from Karnataka Syed Nasir Hussain criticised the BJP for destabilising the Puducherry government ahead of the assembly elections.

RJD’s Manoj Kumar Jha asked the Centre to focus on improving health and education. He also urged the MPs to demand the rights of their states from the Centre. “Before our eyes, one state (J&K) has become a union territory and another’s powers are diluted. I hope in future appropriation Bills are not brought up for other states,” he said.

Rajya Sabha’s morning session was briefly disrupted by BJP MPs who tried raising the issue of alleged charges of corruption against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh during the Zero Hour. As BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi got up to say that he had given a notice to raise the Maharashtra issue, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu interrupted him to remind him that the Chair had not permitted it. This led to brief sloganeering by the BJP MPs as well as the Opposition MPs, who were objecting to Modi’s demand.

Naidu did not relent and moved on to the Question Hour. “I have not permitted it,” he said, reminding the House the “precious time” was lost on Monday over the same issue. “It is a political issue. Settle it outside,” he said.

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