ANI Photo | Opposition members in LS seek time-frame for assembly polls in J-K; Rajya Sabha discusses economic situation in country

Lok Sabha on Tuesday took up discussion on two bills on Jammu and Kashmir while the Rajya Sabha discussed the economic situation in the country with the BJP members praising the government for its handling of the economy in a difficult global situation and the opposition members pointing to price rise and “high unemployment” in the country.
Home Minister Amit Shah moved the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 for consideration and passing in Lok Sabha. The House took up debate on the two bills together.
Several members took part in the debate and the Home Minister is expected to give reply on Wednesday.
Participating in the debate, opposition members accused the government of delaying elections in Jammu and Kashmir. They said the government is talking of improved law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir but assembly elections have not been held.
During the debate, which was initiated by Congress member Amar Singh, several members also said that the government should restore the statehood of Jammu and Kashmirt.
Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) said the government should announce a time-frame for holding polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
oy targeted the government and said it was first time that a state had been turned into Union Territory.
“Let me start with the situation in Jammu and Kashmir since Amit Shah took over as Home Minister. One of the major steps taken by him was to abrogate Article 370 and then convert the states of Jammu and Kashmir to Union Territories. First Jammu and Kashmir and second, Ladakh. Earlier, Union Territories were converted into States and here, Amit Shah converted the states into Union Territories. What have you achieved?” he asked.
“If there is no Legislative Assembly, then why are you making the changes? Have a Legislative Assembly and then make it. I don’t know what the hurry is; the hurry should be to hold the elections in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
“They abrogated Article 370 just to fulfil the BJP promise: ‘Ek Pradhan, Ek Nishan, Ek Vidhan’ (One Prime Minister, one flag and one Constitution). This was the slogan at the time of Syama Prasad (Mookerjee), this is not for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, as this was a political statement and was his slogan,” he said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah countered Sugata Roy over some of his remarks and asked how can a country have two PMs, two constitutions and two flags.
“How can a country have two PMs, two constitutions and two flags? Those who did this, they did wrong. PM Modi corrected it. We have been saying since 1950 that there should be ‘Ek Pradhan, Ek Nishan, Ek Vidhan’ (One Prime Minister, one flag and one Constitution) in the country, and we did it.” Shah said.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur said Kashmir saw stone-pelting incidents earlier but there were no such incidents now.
Thakur alleged that the TMC government in West Bengal is not allowing the “Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra”, which showcases the people-centric policies of the Narendra Modi government in the state.
Participating in the debate, J-K National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi said the bill should not have been brought at this stage as the Supreme Court was yet to announce its verdict on the petitions challenging the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act.
He said the decisions on matters, being sought to be amended by the bills, were taken by the assembly and any changes should be made there.
One of the bills seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. It was enacted to provide for reservation in appointment and admission in professional institutions for the members of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and other socially and educationally backward classes.
The bill seeks to amend section 2 of the Reservation Act to change the nomenclature of “weak and under privileged classes (social castes)” to “other backward classes” and make consequential amendments.
The other bill seeks to provide representation to “Kashmiri Migrants”, “Displaced Persons from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir” and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir “to preserve their political rights as well as for their overall social and economic development”.
It seeks to insert new sections 15A and 15B in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 to nominate not more than two members, one of whom shall be a woman, from the community of “Kashmiri Migrants” and one Member from “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir”, to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
In the Rajya Sabha, the opposition members posed several questions to the government over its handling of the economy.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram referred to the government’s remarks about the country growing at the fastest rate in the world and largest FDI coming into the country and asked why is it not being reflected in the inflation and unemployment figures.
He said people are being forced to consume less and borrow more and impact can be seen in the “historic decline” in the net financial savings of households, child malnutrition, extreme poverty and economic inequality.
“If India is growing at the fastest rate in the world, then why is the impact of the growth not felt on the ground? We are a large economy, we are growing at the fastest rate in the world & we have the largest FDI coming in, but why is it not seen on the ground? I specifically want to ask why is it not seen in the inflation and unemployment numbers?” he asked.
He asked why the BJP-led government does not talk about 2 crore jobs annually “which it had promised”.

Participating in the discussion, Sudhanshu Trivedi of BJP highlighted the government’s achievements in improving infrastructure such as modernization of railways and increase in number of airports.
He said several other countries including advanced economies were seeing slow growth but India is the fastest growing economy due to the effective economic policies of the Narendra Modi government.
Referring to growth rates during the largely Congress rule from the 1950s to the 1980s, Trivedi said it was stated that the growth rate could not rise beyond two per cent and it was mockingly called the “Hindu rate of growth”.
“Those who hate the world Hindutva are the same people who were happy with a two per cent Hindu growth rate. Now it is not Hindu growth rate, it is Hindutva growth rate as now there are people (in power) who have faith in Hindutva,” he said.
He said India having the fastest growth rate is coinciding with the ‘pran prathistha’ of Ram Temple in Ayodhya next month.
Earlier, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman answered several questions on NPAs during the Question Hour.
“Amidst the global turmoil….as regards the banking systems, the Indian banks continue to stand healthy, strong and resilient. In our country, not only the Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) are coming down but also the profit margins are going up,” she said.
Answering a query on loan defaulters, she said as of 31st March 2023, – Legal suits were filed for recovery against 13,978 loan accounts.
“Action under the SARFAESI Act has been initiated in 11,483 cases. – FIRs have been filed in 5,674 cases. – An aggregate amount of Rs 33,801 crores has been recovered. Specific actions through various legal provisions are being taken against defaulters and as a result, money is going back to the banks,” she said.
“As of December 1, 2023, assets amounting to Rs 15,186.64 crores under the PMLA have been confiscated by the ED out of which Rs 15,183.77 crores have been restituted to the Public Sector Banks. PMC Bank has recovered Rs 104.02 crores with active cooperation and support from agencies. Assets amounting to Rs 692.89 crores have been confiscated under the provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018,” she added.
Answering another query, she said it’s not the government that suggests the level of haircut on the loans.
“There’s an established mechanism through which the Committee of Creditors decides based on proposals that are before them to see what is the best solution that can be offered. I would like to dispel the impression that the members are having and putting before this House that the government decides on how much should be the haircut. Not at all. There’s an institutional mechanism that decides how the creditors are going to be paid back.”
She accused the Congress-led UPA government of “phone banking”.
‘Phone Banking’ was at that time when people would call the banks & say ‘so & so will come to seek a loan from your bank, please grant it’, meaning that there’s no need to look at their eligibility, etc & that the loan must be granted. The heart of the problem was during the 10 years of UPA rule between 2004 and 2014 when calls were made to grant loans to people who weren’t worthy of getting a loan. The burden fell on us to sort the Indian banks out with reforms,” she said
Sitharaman said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “sat with all of us, including my predecessor Arun Jaitleyji.
“We spent a lot of time understanding where the problem was and worked together with the RBI. ‘Phone Banking’ was the method through which political interference spoilt all our banks & drove them to a loss-making situation. First, it must be looked at what contributed to the NPAs and made Indian banks actually have a twin balance-sheet problem which brought down the Indian economy to the ‘Fragile Five’. Today, the Indian economy is the world’s fastest-growing economy, registering a 7.6% GDP growth rate in the last quarter,” she said.
The debate will continue on Wednesday

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