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Sunday,20-September-2020

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Sonia Gandhi demands rollback in fuel price hike as Congress holds protests

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Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Monday demanded a rollback of the fuel price hike as the party held nationwide protests against the government over the rising petrol and diesel prices.

As a part of the party’s ‘speak up’ campaign, Sonia Gandhi in a video appeal asked the government to cut taxes and lower the burden on the consumers during the time of the coronavirus when people are already suffering economically.

“I along with the Congress workers and citizens demand that the government should take back the hike in prices of diesel and petrol in these tough times,” said Sonia Gandhi.

She alleged that the government was “insensitive” towards the people’s problems as it increased the prices 22 times in three months.

“The government has earned extra Rs 18 lakh crore since 2014 and the crude oil prices have decreased worldwide,” said Sonia Gandhi.

She said that in the national capital and other metros, the cost of petrol and diesel has crossed Rs 80 a litre.

The Congress workers used bullock carts, cycles and other means to demonstrate against the government. The protests will be held for five days

K. C.Venugopal, Congress General Secretary, said, “Today as a symbol of protest against the unjustifiable hikes in fuel prices, I rode my bicycle to Parliament as part of the nationwide movement started by Congress Party.”

Since the daily price revision resumed on June 7, petrol price has increased by Rs 9.12 and diesel rose by Rs 11.01 in the national capital. In other cities also, the magnitude of the increase was similar.

Petrol prices in the other metros of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata were at Rs 87.14, Rs 83.59 and Rs 82.05 per litre respectively.

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Rajya Sabha passes two agriculture Bills amid pandemonium

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The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed two agriculture-related Bills amid a pandemonium due to protests by opposition members.

The Upper House gave the nod to The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, as opposition MPs continued to shout slogans during their passage. Some lawmakers even staged a walkout in protest.

Earlier, replying to the debate on the Bills, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar assured the House that the Minimum Support Price regime will not be scrapped. Some of the amendments moved by the opposition lawmakers were not pressed for voting while those pressed for voting were negated.

The opposition also demanded that the Bills be sent to the Select committee of the Upper House but it was not accepted by the government.

Earlier, the House witnessed unruly scenes when TMC MP Derek O’Brien went near the Chair and tried to snatch a mike while citing from the rule book. When his objections were overruled, an aggressive Derek O’Brien tore the rule book by calling the Bills “Kala Kanoon” or black laws, leading to adjournment of the House for a brief period.

The Trinamool leader was also heard saying: “You cannot do this” to the Chair. At one point in time, the aides of the Deputy Chair, who was conducting the House proceedings, had to come forward to shield him.

Despite repeated requests, many opposition members reached the Well of the House to register their protests.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded that discussion on the Bills be continued on Monday. “To decide this, we should go by the consensus among the members, not by the numbers of the ruling party,” Azad said.

The opposition as well as BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal termed the Bills an “anti-farmers” move by the Centre, with some staging a walkout.

Thousands of farmers in Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting since the government introduced these Bills in the Lok Sabha on September 14, the opening day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

The Bills seek to replace the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 promulgated on June 5.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to provide a new ecosystem in which farmers and traders, as per the government, will enjoy freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of their produce and facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter- and intra-state trade and commerce.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, aims to provide a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers.

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Lok Sabha business list’s schedule for Amit Shah

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah is to lay papers on the table in the Lok Sabha and introduce Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 along with two other Bills for passage, revised list of Business of the lower House reveals.

It will be his first presence during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament after he defeated coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic which infected him last month.

The Minister is expected to join proceedings of the House when it will assemble for the day at 3 pm. He will be present along with his two junior Ministers Nityanand Rai and G. Kishan Reddy, the legislative Business of the lower House mentions.

As per the legislative Business of the House, the Minister will lay Home Ministry papers on the Table and then introduce the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 which seeks amendment into the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.

Shah will also move the National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020 for its passage. The Minister’s name is mentioned in the legislative business list to press for the Bill which provides establishment and declare an institution to be known as the National Forensic Sciences University as an institution of national importance to facilitate and promote studies and research and to achieve excellence in the field of forensic science in conjunction with applied behavioural science studies, law, criminology and other allied areas and technology and other related fields.

The Minister’s name is also listed for the move of Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 for its consideration and passage. The Bill seeks to establish and declare an institution to be known as the Rashtriya Raksha University as an institution of national importance and to provide for its incorporation and matters connected.

Shah was expected to join the Lok Sabha on Saturday as National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020 and Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 was listed on his name for the day. However, the Minister did not join the House because of some reasons.

Shah was discharged from AIIMS on Thursday evening, four days after being admitted there for a complete medical check-up.

On September 13, Shah was admitted to AIIMS for a complete check-up ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament. This was the third time he was admitted to hospital after contracting coronavirus.

Shah had been suffering from post-Covid ailments for a month. On August 2, he had tested positive for Covid-19 and received treatment at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram. The Home Minister was discharged on August 14 after testing negative.

On August 18, Shah was admitted to AIIMS for post-Covid treatment after he complained of fatigue and bodyache. He recovered on August 29 and was discharged.

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Ex-PM H.D. Deve Gowda takes oath as RS member

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Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda took oath as a Rajya Sabha member on Sunday .

The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo took oath in Kannada in the presence of Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu shortly after the House convened for the day.

Gowda, 87, was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka with the support of the opposition Congress on June 12 in the biennial elections held in Bengaluru for four seats that fell vacant after the previous members’ terms ended on June 25.

Though 45 of the 61 new members took oath on July 22 in Parliament House, Gowda could not go to New Delhi then, as he was unwell and due to coronavirus-induced restrictions on travelling for senior citizens amid the pandemic.

Gowda has entered the Rajya Sabha for the second time, 24 years after he was elected when he was the Prime Minister from June 1996 to April 1997.

Meanwhile, former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Congress leader Ambika Soni and Samajwadi Party’s Revati Ramn Singh have sought leave from Sunday’s session.

Citing health issues, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram also sought leave.

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