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Not Economy, Not Pollution and Definitely Not Trans Rights: What Do Our Netas Care About?

Empty benches during the discussion on economic slowdown in Rajya Sabha. (Photo: TV grab)

Empty benches during the discussion on economic slowdown in Rajya Sabha. (Photo: TV grab)

The lack of quorum for discussion on economic slowdown and other things you need to know from inside Parliament.

Quorum and Alarm Bells: If you would have noticed the Rajya Sabha proceedings over the last week and half, one thing must have stood out clearly – the empty benches whenever a key issue was to be discussed. The attendance was dismal whether it was the debate on pollution in north Indian states or whether the highly controversial Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was to be taken up. The bill, which has been fiercely opposed by the transgender community as regressive and half-hearted, was passed when there were just 125 members in the Rajya Sabha.

The same story played out on Wednesday when there was to be a discussion on the state of the economy. The opposition had been demanding this discussion for a while and the government obliged today. But when the matter was actually taken up, there were not even enough MPs to constitute the quorum. The bell for quorum kept ringing as the required strength was missing. When finally the house assembled there were barely more than 50 members present to listen to the debate.

Maha Setback: Despite the massive loss of face that the BJP has suffered in Maharashtra after being outsmarted by Sharad Pawar, the BJP asked its MPs to go about their business as usual and not make too many comments on the issue. Instead the government showed enthusiasm as it looked to push through some key bills in the Parliament, including the SPG Amendment Bill, the bill to ban e-cigarettes and the National Institute of Design Amendment Bill. All this to send the message that Maharashtra is now in the rear view mirror for the party, at least for the time being.

Sigh of Relief: After months of speculation that the government would reduce the retirement age for bureaucrats, the minister for personnel Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha that there was no such proposal as of now. “Presently, there is no proposal to reduce the age of retirement on superannuation from 60 years to 58 years,” he said. Social media posts had claimed that the government has finalized proposals for implementation of 33 years of service or 60 years age, whichever is early, for retirement on superannuation.

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