NEW DELHI: The BJP-led NDA Government seems to have hit its first rough spot over the ordinance issued to amend TRAI Act to enable its former chairman Nipendra Misra become Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The government introduced the Bill amending the TRAI Act in the Lok Sabha amid objections from the Trinamool Congress members. After the Question Hour, as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan directed the Bill be introduced, senior TMC member Saugata Roy objected to saying it violated the rules of procedures.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected the objection saying there was “no merit in it”. Prasad will reply to the Bill when it will be taken up for discussion.
The numbers are on the government’s side in the Lok Sabha, but it would face trouble from the Congress and other Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha.
When asked about his views about opposition from the Congress, and related controversies, Prasad said he would answer all the doubts raised in his reply and would not comment outside the House.
BJP sources said they would manage to get the Bill passed. The party also ruled out calling the joint sitting of Both the Houses over this small issue. However, the ruling party may face tough time in the Upper House.
As Misra was chairman of the telecom regulatory body, according to the law he cannot accept a post retirement job for two years. However, when Modi became PM he appointed Misra as a key officer in his office, after bringing an ordinance to amend the law. The ordinance has to be rectified within six months. The government introduced the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill on Friday to replace the ordinance issued on May 28 to change a clause in the TRAI Act by which Misra could not have been appointed to any government post after retirement. The TRAI ordinance has to be ratified by both the Houses of Parliament in this session, as it will lapse after six months.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi accused the government of “trying to pass the Bill with its brute majority in the Lok Sabha, just to benefit one individual”. In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress, which is the single largest party with 68 MPs, has said it would oppose the Bill. “Our concern is that of principles. We are not against any person. When TRAI was made, the rule was that its chairman should not be given any other work. It should not be violated,” said Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.
Earlier, the Law Minister had said the government was within its rights to bring any law in the TRAI. “We are pushing this Bill based upon clear merits. We are quite confident that we will pass it in both the Houses,” Prasad said. Sources in the government says the law needs to be changed as TRAI is the only authority which bars its chairpersons from taking up any official assignment.
The PM reportedly hand-picked the 1967-batch IAS officer.