Shah makes up for lost time
The Rajya Sabha became the centre of parliamentary debate on Monday, what with BJP president Amit Shah making his debut while speaking on the motion of thanks to the President’s address. He had been waiting to open his parliamentary innings with a bang, and the disrupted winter session had upset his plans. Shah, of course, more than made up with a lengthy maiden speech, reeling out the achievements of the Government from foreign policy to GST and giving it back to the Congress. Prime Minister Modi was seen smiling approvingly. There was, however, a post-speech debate on what stood out—his putdown of Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ jibe or his dig at P Chidambaram or his making light of the pakora-stall as an employment option.
A Chinese ploy
FM Arun Jaitley is in a complaining mood about how critics are making ill-informed points without understanding the nuances of GST. The point of concern is the manner in which gullible women’s organisations are being taken in by a surrogate campaign being built by Chinese sanitary napkin manufacturers. It seems the higher GST was assigned so that the Chinese are prevented from flooding the market with their cheap brands and to give Indian manufacturers, particularly the self-help groups, a better deal.
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu may have reconsidered his decision to split from the NDA after a call from Home Minister Rajnath Singh, but his wish of additional special funds for Andhra is unlikely to be granted - a protest by TDP MPs in the Parliament forecourt notwithstanding. The Centre feels Punjab is more deserving and, anyway, that it can’t be footing Naidu’s freebies.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, inundated by complaints about Aadhaar data being breached, was similarly at pains to explain how secure everyone’s biometric details were. He cited how it was not the government but the Supreme Court which made submission of Aadhaar details mandatory for mobile operators and banks. “Except for terrorists and those involved in money-laundering, nobody has anything to fear,” he said. Prasad also cited how PDS shops in his home state Bihar, as well as the North-East, were routinely pilfered from before Aadhaar. However, he promised, strict action would be taken against anyone denying rations to the needy on the ground that fingerprints don’t match.