A bill that removed legal hurdles in the appointment of former Trai chief Nripendra Misra as the Prime Minister’s principal secretary was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday with the Congress finding itself isolated in opposition.
Key-non NDA parties such as the Trinamool Congress, AIADMK, and BJD supported the bill with even the NCP — an ally of the Congress — backing the legislation. Support from these parties indicated that the bill would sail through the Rajya Sabha, where it goes next for approval. The NDA is in a minority in the upper House.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill lifts a bar on former Trai chairpersons from taking up government jobs and replaces a May 28 ordinance that paved the way for Misra’s appointment as Narendra Modi’s principal secretary.
During the passage of the bill, the Congress and Left parties walked out in protest while Sharad Pawar’s NCP refused to join the walk-out and supported the bill.
parliamentary session that the NCP did not join the Congress in staging a walk-out. On the first day of the budget session last Monday, NCP didn’t join the Congress-led protest against finance minister Arun Jaitley’s reply to a discussion on inflation in the Rajya Sabha. Congress leader Anand Sharma had then attributed the absence of coordination to a “lacunae in floor coordination”.
Support from the Trinamool Congress – three days after it opposed the bill “tooth and nail” during its introduction-- came after Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee slammed party MP Saugata Roy for “irresponsibly” opposing it on Friday.
Banerjee told her colleagues that there is nothing wrong in the bill. “The PM has full freedom to decide who his principal secretary will be. Moreover, the government opted for the parliamentary route to retain him,” Trinamool leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay told HT.
The Trinamool flip-flop comes at a time when the CBI is probing the Saradha chit fund scam, in which many party leaders are suspected to be involved. The party has a history of changing its stance on bills. In 2011, it supported the Lokpal bill in Lok Sabha only to oppose in the upper House two days later.