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Arun Jaitely hits back at Congress in Lok Sabha

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Anurag Thakur regrets Nehru remarks as Lok Sabha sees 4 adjournments

The statement led to chaos in the House as Congress and Trinamool Congress members objected to his speech and continued to sloganeer, leading to four adjournments of the House.

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Aurag Thakur in Lok Sabha

New Delhi, Sep 18 : After the Lok Sabha witnessed four adjournments on Friday due to a ruckus over his remarks pertaining to the PM National Relief Fund set up by independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Union Minister of State Anurag Thakur expressed regrets in the House.

The Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs expressed regret over his statement made while speaking during the introduction of the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020.

As the opposition members led by the Congress objected to his remarks against Nehru and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the House saw four back-to-back adjournments.

“During the introduction of taxation and other laws, it was not my aim to hurt anyone while putting information (before the House). If anyone got hurt, I also feel the pain on that statement,” Thakur said when the House reassembled at 6 p.m. following the four adjournments.

Thakur’s statement came after Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla discussed the issue with the treasury benches and opposition leaders in his chamber in the wake of protests by opposition members. Birla later asked the Minister in the House to speak on his remarks so that the proceedings of the session could be regularised.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said his party was hurt by Thakur’s statement against his party leaders and said his MPs will be happy if the treasury benches did not repeat such things in future.

“You made us feel very hurt. The government’s duty is to do work for the welfare of the country while the opposition’s duty is to help the government. Parliament is for both. We will all run this session together. It is the responsibility of both the treasury and opposition benches,” Chowdhury said.

Speaking on the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020, Thakur raised questions on Nehru’s trust which he claimed is not yet registered even though it was set up in 1948 on the then PM’s orders.

“In 1948, then Prime Minister Nehru ordered the PM National Relief Fund. Since then, there has been no registration of that fund. How did that fund get the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act nod is not known? The trust is not registered. How did you (Congress) give that trust FCRA clearance?” Thakur said earlier.

His remarks came as the Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has provisions about Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund on which the opposition has raised question on several occasions after it was set up to undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thakur said that the PM-CARES fund is a constitutionally authorised trust and was set up for the welfare of 130 crore people of the county.

The Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of PM-CARES while the Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs, and Finance are ex-officio Trustees.

“You (Congress) made PM National Relief Fund Trust only for (welfare) of one Gandhi family,” Thakur alleged.

Nehru and Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi have been members of the Prime Minister National Relief Fund, continued the Minister, an MP from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh.

He sought a detailed discussion to clear things about that fund.

The statement led to chaos in the House as Congress and Trinamool Congress members objected to his speech and continued to sloganeer, leading to four adjournments of the House.

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MPs object to the suspension of MPLAD funds

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New Delhi: SP MP from Uttar Pradesh Vishambhar Prasad Nisha says that he supports the salary cut, but objected to the suspension of MPLAD funds. This money does not go into our pockets, but is used to help the people in our constituencies, he says. Without that, our hands are tied, he adds.

He asks that the government not use this pandemic to sneak in such measures.

DMK MP P. Wilson from Tamil Nadu argues that the savings made from passing this bill is less than the the amount spent in the process of passing it in the Parliament Houses. “The government is spending Rs. 6 crores to save Rs. 4 crore,” he says.

He too calls for the MPLAD fund suspension be lifted. He adds that it is astonishing that the government thought it appropriate to suspend the MPLAD fund while the multi-crore Central Vista project is still on.

BJP MP from Punjab Shwait Malik asks the Congress to not politicise COVID-19 efforts. He says that the PMCARES funds are being used wisely, and for coronavirus response.

AITC MP from West Bengal Dinesh Trivedi says that he fully supports the wage cuts, but asks the ruling party to include the Opposition in the decision making process.

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BJP’s Ashok Gasti dies of COVID-19; newly-elected Rajya Sabha member breathes his last at Bengaluru hospital

Condoling Gasti’s demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was passionate about empowering the poor and marginalised sections of society

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Ashok Gasti

Bengaluru: Newly-elected Rajya Sabha member Ashok Gasti, who was admitted to a private hospital after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, died on Thursday night, the hospital said.

Gasti, 55, who was admitted to Manipal Hospital on Old Airport Road on 2 September and diagnosed with severe COVID-19 pneumonia, passed away at 10.31 pm, hospital director Manish Rai said in a statement.

Condoling Gasti’s demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was passionate about empowering the poor and marginalised sections of society.

“Rajya Sabha MP Shri Ashok Gasti was a dedicated Karyakarta who worked hard to strengthen the Party in Karnataka. He was passionate about empowering the poor and marginalised sections of society. Anguished by his passing away. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti,” Modi tweeted.

According to Rai, Gasti was critically ill with multi-organ failure and was on life support system under constant observation of an expert panel of doctors.

“We deeply regret the loss and express our condolences to his family and friends,” Rai said.

A grassroots worker hailing from Raichur, Gasti was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha in June on a BJP ticket.

Coming from the backward community of Savita Samaj, Gasti had been an RSS worker and was an active member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

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