TDP, YSR Congress no-confidence motions against BJP govt today: 10 points

N Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh, CM

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The N Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Y S Jaganmohan Reddy-led Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSR Congress Party) on Monday will push their notices of no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha, as they continue their respective agitations for the granting of a special-category status to Andhra Pradesh. The development comes after the TDP quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and moved a no-confidence motion on Friday, a day after the YSR Congress Party had moved a no-confidence motion against the Modi government. Their notices were not taken up last week because of the din in the House.

YSR Congress Party’s Y V Subba Reddy has written to the Lok Sabha secretariat to put his notice of the motion in the revised list of business for today. The TDP has also moved a notice for a no-confidence motion.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has said that the TDP and YSR Congress Party’s notices were not taken up last week due to the House not being in order, with members of several parties raising slogans in the Well. However, Monday might not prove very fruitful for the two parties from Andhra Pradesh as the Lok Sabha will meet today amid no signs of a let-up in the deadlock in the House’s proceedings. It remains uncertain if order will be restored in the Lok Sabha today with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi protesting over a host of issues.

The proceedings in Parliament were washed out for the second consecutive week on Friday due to protests by Opposition parties.

Both the parties from Andhra Pradesh have been protesting and agitating as the Centre has refused to grant the state a special-category status. The political tussle in the state and at the national level saw the TDP and the BJP engage in an escalating and heated exchange, which culminated in the end of their alliance. Both parties have been lobbying with opposition parties for support to their respective notices.

However, even if the no-confidence motions are admitted, the Modi government has expressed confidence that they will be defeated given its strength in the Lok Sabha.

Here are the top 10 developments around the TDP-BJP split and the no-confidence motions against the Modi government



UP, Bihar bypolls: Gorakhpur loss start of BJP’s worry? Top 10 developments

akhilesh yadav

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received a severe setback in the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar Lok Sabha and Assembly by-elections, losing four of the five seats in the bypolls, including the all-important Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats in Uttar Pradesh. Especially worrisome for the BJP was the fact that it was trounced by the BSP-backed Samajwadi Party in the high-stakes Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls which could boost the chances of a ‘mahagathbandhan’ of anti-BJP parties before the 2019 general elections.

After sweeping the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections last year, the BJP faced a last-minute alliance stitched by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the BJPbypolls. BSP supremo Mayawati had announced her party’s backing for SP candidates in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur in return for the SP’s support for her party’s candidate in the Rajya Sabha biennial elections.

The BJP lost the Gorakhpur seat to the SP by a margin of 21,961 votes. SP candidate Pravin Kumar Nishad got 456,437 more votes than his nearest rival, BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla, who secured 434,476 votes. In the Phulpur constituency, SP candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel defeated BJP candidate Kaushalendra Singh by a margin of 59,613 votes. The winner polled 342,796 votes, while the BJP candidate secured 283,183.

Significantly, Gorakhpur was earlier held by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had held the Phulpur seat.

Meanwhile, in Bihar, the BJP also lost the Araria Lok Sabha constituency and the Jehanabad Assembly seat while scoring a consolation win in the Bhabua Assembly seat. The results in both the states triggered calls for a Grand Alliance — a la Bihar — all across India to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Once the outcome of the Uttar Pradesh 2018 bypolls was known, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that “over-confidence and the inability to understand the understanding between SP and BSP” were the prime reasons for the BJP’s defeat.

Here are the top 10 developments in the shock defeat for BJP in UP and Bihar bypolls:


Budget 2018: Solar sector seeks relief from proposed safeguard duty of 70%

Govt proposes Rs 11k-cr plan to boost domestic solar panel manufacturing

Budget 2018

Concerned over future of the sunrise industry which is facing threat due to the proposed imposition of 70 per cent safeguard duty on import of solar power equipment, sector experts are expecting some breather from the Union Budget 2018-19.

Industry experts believe that the imposition will not only increase the tariff by almost Re 1 but it will put the projects under execution in deep trouble resulting in making them unviable, turning them into non-performing assets.

As per industry estimates, nearly 3000-4000 MW of solar projects worth over Rs 150 billion are at high risk, especially when solar cells and modules that account for 60 per cent of the total project cost are either in transit or have been tied-up for.

“The sudden imposition of the duty will put a number of projects that are currently under various stages of development under risk in the near term. More than 10,000 MW of capacity is imported annually and this duty will adversely impact the project’s viability,” CleanMax Solar Managing Director Kuldeep Jain said.

According to Crisil, the projects auctioned in the year 2017 were bid at low tariffs, so any rise in equipment cost after the safeguard duty would crimp the cushion that developers have to service debt.

“The proposed 70 per cent safeguard duty will also inflate project costs by 25 per cent and crank up viable tariff to Rs 3.75 per unit from around Rs 3 estimated earlier, making solar power less attractive to discoms. That would also be more than the average power purchase cost of 10 out of 14 discoms last fiscal,” Crisil Ratings Senior Director Subodh Rai said.

Solar solutions provider Eastman Auto and Power Managing Director Shekhar Singal said the imports from countries like China, which is around 80 per cent, needs to be curbed, but it is important to see the projects are not affected due to the unreasonably high duty.

“The Central Board of Excise and Customs has sought to reclassify imported solar panels and modules in a category that attracts 7.5 per cent duty. Besides, various kinds of cess with the cost of a solar cell, around 30 cents at present, will go up to around 50 cents for Indian developers if 70 per cent safeguard duty is imposed. We do hope the forthcoming budget will address this issue,” he added.


Eyes on Economic Survey 2018 as Budget Session of Parliament begins today

Budget 2018

Budget 2018

All eyes will be on the Economic Survey on Monday, the first day of the crucial Budget session of Parliament. The last full Budget session of the 16th Lok Sabha will begin with President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha — his first after being elected to the office.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will table the Economic Survey for 2017-18, days ahead of the fifth and final full Budget of the current term of the Narendra Modi government on Thursday. Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian has announced a survey-dedicated webpage — #economicsurvey18. Amid speculation that the Modi government is thinking of advancing the Lok Sabha election from April-May 2019 to November-December 2018, the Economic Survey and the Budget will be gleaned for any such indication, and whether the Budget attempts to reach out to key constituencies of urban middle class and rural voters. An important sideshow will be a meeting of opposition parties on Monday. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has convened the meeting of all the leading opposition parties to discuss their parliamentary strategy for the Budget session as well as electoral strategy for the forthcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

On Friday, Pawar had led a ‘save the Constitution’ rally in Mumbai on the occasion of the Republic Day. Several opposition leaders participated in the rally. The first half of the Budget session is from January 29 to February 9. After nearly a month-long break to give standing committees time to study Budgetary grants, the two Houses will meet again for the second half of the session from March 5 to April 6. The session will have 31 sittings — eight in the first half and 23 in the second.

After a truncated Winter session, which ended on January 5, the first half of the Budget session is also slated to be one of the shortest in recent times. “Number of ‘full’ working days in the first phase of the Budget session are February 5, 6, 7 and 8. Just four days. This government cares two hoots about Parliament,” said Derek O’Brien, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader in the Rajya Sabha. While January 30 is martyrs’ day, there is a parliamentary holiday on January 31 on account of Guru Ravidas birth anniversary


Budget session begins today, eyes on Economic survey & top 10 developments

Budget 2018 session begins today

Budget 2018

The Budget session of the Parliament begins today. As many as 28 bills will be tabled in the Lok Sabha, while 39 bills are listed for the Rajya Sabha for the upcoming session. On February 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the last full Budget of the present government. This session is extremely crucial for the rulling government, which is set to face eight state elections in 2018 and the General Election in 2019.

As much as it crucial because there are eight state elections in 2018 and the General Election in 2019, it is also the first post-GST Budget — with its own increased challenges and decreased kick of “what got cheaper; what got dearer”.

Top 10 developments

1. Budget session schedule

The Budget Session 2018 has been scheduled to be held from Monday (January 29) may conclude on April 6 due to exigencies of government business. During this period, both Houses of Parliament will be adjourned for recess on February 9 to reassemble on March 5, so to enable the Standing Committees to examine the demands of grants of various Ministries/ Departments and make their reports thereon. Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Ananth Kumar said, “The Session will provide a total of 31 sittings (8 sittings in First part and 23 sittings in the Second part) spread over a period of 68 days”.

ALSO READ: Budget 2018: Govt may not be able to meet its gross revenue target in FY18

2. Economic Survey of India to be presented today

The Economic Survey of India will be presented to Parliament on Monday, January 29. Ahead of the Union Budget, the finance ministry every year presents the economic survey, which reviews the overall state of the economy in the last 12 months. In August last year however, the government for the first time presented a mid-term economic survey.

Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian has announced a survey-dedicated webpage — #economicsurvey18.

3. Indian Economy on the recovery path

As far as the next financial year is concerned, analysts and rating agencies have signalled a recovery in the economy. Various sources have predicted the growth rate in a range of 7 per cent to 7.5 per cent. In November the factory output grew at 17-month high pace of 8.4 per cent, indicating green shoots. The government and analysts alike have opined that the roll out of GST has more or less overcome the teething troubles and will start bearing fruits.


Budget 2018 Preview: Before 2019 polls, govt will aim to woo rural voters

agriculture, farming, farmer, crop, crop insurance

Budget 2018

India’s government will be trying to woo back rural voters and small businesses when it announces the 2018/19 budget on Thursday and pick up economic momentum as it heads into a season of elections, officials said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, extolling India as a model of economic growth and political openness, told the World Economic Forum in Davos last week the country would be a $5 trillion economy by 2025, more than double its current size.

But at home, Modi is facing voter discontent over falling farm incomes and the lack of jobs for hundreds of thousands of youth entering the labour force each month.

This month, the government lowered its gross domestic growth forecast for the year ending March, 2018 to 6.5 percent, the weakest pace in four years. Growth slowed down because of a chaotic rollout of nationwide goods and service tax (GST) last year and a shock move to ban high-value currency notes in late 2016.

Modi’s ruling alliance barely scraped through an election in his home state of Gujarat last month and is now faced with elections in eight states spread over 2018 and a general election that must be held by May next year.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will likely step up funding of existing rural programmes such as a jobs guarantee scheme, rural housing and a crop insurance plan in what will be his final full year budget before the general election.

Budget proposals are a closely guarded secret, but a finance ministry official with direct knowledge of the discussions said: “The government’s top priority is to create jobs and boost growth.”

The official added: “The budget is likely to offer incentives to the farm sector and small businesses.” Small businesses form the core support base of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and they are hurting over the implementation of the GST, with its cumbersome compliance procedures, and the demonetisation policy that sucked cash out of the system.

Jaitley is also expected to stay the course on a massive plan to build highways, modernise the railways and end infrastructure bottlenecks that have long hobbled Asia’s third-largest economy.


Budget 2018: Govt to ‘leave no stone unturned’ in passing triple talaq Bill

 triple talaq Bill in the Budget session of Parliament

Budget 2018

The government on Sunday said it would “leave no stone unturned” to ensure the passage of the triple talaq Bill in the Budget session of Parliament starting Monday, and asserted that it would talk to various parties for a consensus on the issue.

The government met leaders of political parties at a meeting in Parliament House on Sunday and also sought their cooperation in ensuring the success of the crucial session during which the Union Budget would be presented.

The all-party meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar, besides leaders of the Opposition and other parties.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also held a dinner meeting with party leaders for the session’s smooth functioning and said the leaders had assured her of their cooperation.

Addressing the floor leaders of the various parties in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Modi said the government accords importance to issues raised by the parties and urged their leaders to create a “constructive atmosphere for the national good”.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kumar described the meeting as “fruitful” and said the prime minister urged the leaders of the parties to make the session successful.

“We will leave no stone unturned and persuade and request all political parties so that the Bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha, as it has been in the Lok Sabha,” he said when asked about the triple talaq Bill after the meeting.

“We are very hopeful that the Bill, which is going to negate ‘Talaq-e-Biddat’ and pave the way for empowering Muslim women, will be passed in the Rajya Sabha, too,” he said.

Kumar said that he, along with Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel and Arjun Ram Meghwal, will approach various political parties to evolve a consensus for its passage.

“Like the way parties passed the GST unanimously, we are requesting them to pass this Bill, which is going to ban the practice of instant triple talaq (Talaq-e-Biddat) among Muslims,” he said.