Winter session: Parallel Constitution Day in Parliament

New Delhi: Parliament on Tuesday witnessed two separate functions to celebrate the 70th Constitution Day, one official addressed by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Modi in the Central Hall and another attended by 12 opposition parties under the leadership of Congress President Sonia Gandhi under the statue of Constitution maker BR Ambedkar.

The divide came on the solemn occasion of commemoration of the adoption of the Constitution this day in 1949 because of the developments in Maharashtra that forced the Opposition to boycott the joint session of members of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, in protest against what they called the “murder of democracy” and “manhandling” of two protesting women MPs by security staff in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the boycott of the joint session and demonstration outside serves as a reminder to the people that Constitutional norms are being violated by the present establishment.

“No, no, it is not a disservice to the Constitution,” he said, noting that this was to highlight the way the BJP behaved in Maharashtra. Sonia Gandhi read out the preamble of the Constitution at the gathering of the Opposition MPs.

She had personally reached out to many opposition leaders on Monday to join the agitation and boycott the joint session. The opposition members also boycotted the two Houses that assembled in the post-lunch session after the joint sitting.

Those who joined the protest included Congress, Shiv Sena, TMC, DMK, RJD, CPI, CPI(M), Samajwadi Party, BSP, AAP, JD(S), RSP and IUML. Intriguingly, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on whom hinges formation of a Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra opted to attend the joint session.

The commemorative joint session was addressed by President Kovind and Prime Minister Modi as also by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

Modi also chose the occasion to pay homage to those who lost their life in the 2008 terror attack on the Parliament House this day. He hailed India’s Constitution as the most secular in the world as “we respect and appreciate people of all faiths and traditions.”

He urged the citizens to fulfil “fundamental duties,” asserting that the Constitution highlights both rights and duties of the citizens. He said it is time to focus on responsibilities.

“Rights and responsibilities go hand-in-hand. Mahatma Gandhi had explained this relationship well,” the Prime Minister said.

At the Opposition gathering in front of Ambedkar’s statue in the Parliament House complex, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi said the protest and boycott of the function in the Central Hall is because of the Constitution written by Ambedkar is being undermined daily by the BJP-led government.

Chit funds bill moved

Aimed at protecting the interests of small investors and bring transparency in the operations of chit funds, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur on Tuesday introduced the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Rajya Sabha.

Introducing the bill, the Minister said that it is designed to make chit funds more user-friendly, transparent and lower compliance burden. “We have brought the bill to protect the interests of small investors,” Thakur said while moving the bill for consideration.

Bill to merge UTs

The Centre introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to merge Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli Union Territories. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy introduced the Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories), Bill, 2019 for the merging of two Union Territories — Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli — into one.

NID Amendment Bill

The Lok Sabha unanimously passed the National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which declares the four National Institutes of Design (NID) in Andhra, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Haryana as institutions of national importance.

These institutes are currently registered as Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and do not have the power to grant degrees or diplomas. On being declared institutions of national importance, they will be able to grant degrees and diplomas.

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