February 6, 2018
Kalyan Banerjee speaks on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address
Thank you Deputy Speaker, Sir, for giving me the opportunity to speak on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address.
This is a speech ineffective and oblique since the Central government, the Union Council of Ministers prepares it. If you go through this speech, rosy pictures have been painted, which are far away from the truth. The speech has been written only for publicity purposes.
Firstly, hon’ble Prime Minister of India, during his Independence Day address, laid out his vision of a new India where the youth of our nation would become key stakeholders in building India of the 21st Century.
India’s rate of employment has declined and job creation has not kept up with the growing working debts population. Over 30% of youth aged between 18 to 29 years in India are not in employment education or, training. In 2012-13, the youth unemployment rate was 12.9%. As per the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, youth unemployment rate for 5 years average stands at 15.5% and in last two years, the rate is 18.1%, though it is ranked as the 25th world lowest unemployment rates.
As per World Bank report, India’s unemployment rate increased to 3.6 in December 2017, from the previously reported number of 3.5 in December 2016. India’s population will reach 1360 million people in March 2018; the country’s labour force participation rate dropped to 53.79% in December 2017. Most significantly, the average unemployment rate in 2017 stands at 4.89% – where in urban areas it is 5.47% and in rural 4.59%. As on 28 January 2018, it stood at 6.02% (urban at 7.42% and rural at 5.29%).
Sir, the employment, as promised by the government since 2014, has not been created. Vacancies have not been filled up in different public sectors including railways. Jobs have been destroyed because of wrong decisions, including that of demonetisation. According to the latest IMF report, the number of jobless in the country will increase to 18.6 million in 2018 and 18.9 million in 2019 against 18.3 million in 2017.
It has been noticed that, over 3.7 crores of 13 crore jobs in the informal sector of the economy have been lost due to demonetisation. While the proclaimed purpose of demonetisation was to penalise those among the rich who evade taxes, in reality it hit the poor people in the informal sector and almost 80% of whom lost all livelihood.
The slowdown in the GDP growth rates supports increase in rate of unemployment. But, ill-prepared monetary measures cut the GDP growth rate down to a low of 5.5% from predicted almost 7%.
Economist Dr Amartya Sen considered that this act of demonetisation was a deprivation of the freedom of the Indian people. If I quote Prof. Sen, “Demonetisation is despotic action that has struck at the root of our economy based on tasks”.
Sir, selling pakora by educated unemployed youth is not the pride of the nation. On the contrary, it is disgraceful and shameful for the country because of not providing employment to them, they have to sell pakora in the country.
Sir, it is right that our honourable PM is the son of a tea seller, but, tell us during four years, how many tea sellers’ sons got employment in the country? What provisions have been made by him? That we want to know. All the time he speaks that the I am the son of a tea seller, but, how many tea seller’s sons have got jobs? Has he thought about them? Let him give this answer.
Georgetown University professor Sumit Agarwal and his co-authors studied account activity in 1.5 million PMJDY accounts from August 2014 to May 2015. The report states that 81 per cent of new consumers did not make any deposit in the past six months. A 2016 national survey by MicroSave, a financial consultancy organisation, estimated that 33 per cent of PMJDY customers already had a bank account and 20 per cent of all PMJDY accounts were inactive. According to a paper published in May 2017 by Manuela Kristin Günther from the Overseas Development Institute, 90 per cent of Indian households have at least one bank account, which report has also opposed to the Government’s claim of over 99 per cent.
Now from where do these accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana come from? Reserve Bank of India has also noted in one of its recent papers that during demonetisation, Jan Dhan accounts saw unusual cash deposits as they received additional deposits of Rs 59,810 crore, during the period from November 8 to December 31, 2016.
The idea of demonetisation was aimed at eradicating black money but the Government failed to do so, as 99 per cent of the cash currency notes came back to the banking system with 1 per cent loss, which brought down India’s GDP growth by almost 1 per cent. November 8, 2016 will always remain sealed in the memory of every Indian citizen – the entire range of farming, construction and informal sectors, which run on cash basis, and they affect the vast bulk of the population, particularly hit the poor and the vulnerable people.
The government too received a lesser dividend from the public sector compared to the previous financial years. The RBI transferred a small amount of Rs 30,659 crore as dividend to the government for the year ended June 2017, which is less than half of what it gave to the government a year ago, that is, June 2016, which is Rs 65,880 crore. Amartya Sen says that only an authority in government can calmly cause such miseries to the people, with millions of innocent people being deprived of their money and being subjected to suffering inconveniences and indignities in trying to get their own money back.
Now I come to farm and farmers. India is an agrarian country, with around 70 per cent of its population depending directly or indirectly on agriculture. In a Press Information Bureau report dated May 9, 2017, it is clearly mentioned that as a result of very good rainfall during the monsoon season in 2016, the country has had a record foodgrain production during the current year. Whereas production of sugarcane was estimated at 360.03 million tonnes, which is less by 42.42 million tonnes compared to last year’s production of 348.45 million tonnes and JUTA estimate of 10.27.
According to the report of National Crime Records Bureau, as of 2017, farmer suicides have occurred in large numbers in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. In 2016, in six districts, in Vidarbha’s Buldana, Akola, Warsi, Amravati, Yavatmal and Wardha, all in Maharashtra, the number was 1,235 and till December 11, 2017, the tally was 1,109. Therefore, farmer suicides have gone up? So where have the benefits given to farmers gone? There is no scope of proving that farmers have remained well in this country.
In the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research the first ever comprehensive study says that farm produces today in mandis across India have collapsed in an unprecedented manner by nearly 15% and average 7% loss of value of trade. The market is still in declined condition.
Sir, now I come to Goods and Services Taxes. As per Section 7 of the Goods and Services Taxes, Compensation to the States Act 2017, States and Union Territories with Legislatures, have to be compensated for revenue losses arising out of implementation of GST during the five year transition period, beginning from the date on which the GST Act of the concerned State has come into force.
As per October 2017, the Government has provisionally released Rs 8,698 crore to States and Union Territories with legislation, barring Rajasthan and Arunachal Pradesh, as compensation for revenue losses incurred during July-August on account for implementation of GST. So the compensation payout stands at about 55% of the total amount of Rs 15,060 crore raised from cess during the last two months of the GST rollout. Sir, the implementation of GST has created a drop in revenue collection and resources which further impacted the States’ socio-economic spending ability.
The collections were:
July, 2017 – Rs 94,063 crore,
August, 2017 – Rs 90,669 crore,
September, 2017 – Rs 92,150 crore,
October, 2017 – Rs 83,346 rore
November 2017 – Rs 80,808 crore,
December 2017 – 86,703 crore.
So there is a downward trend, and collection has not been increasing. This clearly indicated a dip in collection of indirect tax regime.
Now there are three causes for that. One is the twin shocks of demonetisation and GST. Next, the balance sheet problems of massive NPAs of banks, which has been weakening India’s banking system and three, the twin deficit problem of economy management and performance. Thus the deficit in the Government exchequer damages the entire business climates of the country. These are the three reasons.
Sir, by demonetisation, the Government killed the informal sector. Then the Government killed MSMEs with a premature GST launch, without any homework. That is the reason small scale industries have suffered a lot.
Sir, now I am coming to a very important aspect of this. Sir, in the scheme of our Constitution, the President of India acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers. SImilarly, the Governor of a State has to act on the advice of the State Government. The Governor does not enjoy any powers other than invoking Article 356, when it is required. Otherwise the Governor has to act on the basis of the advice of the Council of Ministers and cannot act on his own. That is the basic structure of the Constitution.
Let me read Article 163(1): “There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.”
Sir, why I have said this is because today we see the Governor of West Bengal has written a letter where he is directing the Divisional Commissioner of Malda district, saying, “In continuation of my letter, dated 29th January, 2018, this is to inform you that, the Honourable Governor desires that the Inspector General of Police of Murshidabad should also be present during the meeting at Circuit House. On the agenda of the meetings will be: development of State Government, development scheme of Central Government, development of the NGOs, law and order in the districts including border areas.”
Sir, what more, extra constitutionals steps can be taken by the Governor? He is really destroying the Constitution. The Governor of West Bengal is destroying the Constitution. Has he become ‘super’ Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal? My question is whether the Governor office has become the office of the ruling party of the Central Government in the state of West Bengal? That’s my question.
Sir, I am laying this document. We are saying that democracy is at stake in our country. For three long years democracy is at stake. We are not only saying it now, Sir, now very serious, very respectable post-holders of other constitutional House, they are also saying this. Democracy is at stake in the country.
This is an attempt on the part of the Governor to inroad into the federal structure of the country. There must be a degree of tolerance. <interruptions>
I am producing <interruptions> a document <interruptions> If the Governor’s functions are extra-constitutional, I will point it out. I will point out in the Parliament itself. The entire nation must know, how the Governor of West Bengal is functioning, extra-constitutional; he is committing a great breach of the constitutional provision. He is not above the rule of law. No Governor, neither the President of India – with great respect – is above the rule of law and is above the Constitution of India. No they are not.
Now, let me talk about freedom of expression and freedom of speech. We are losing our degree of tolerance. Article 19 (1) (A) of the Constitution of India gives the right to make our expression. I may not like an honourable Member of Parliament who contends. I may not like, he also may not like whatever is my contention, but both of us have that degree of tolerance. That is our country. What is going on all over the country? For one movie ‘Padmaavat’ , Supreme Court has passed an order. Censor Board has cleared it, Supreme Court has cleared it. What about all the vandalism that has been done? Only in the BJP running states vandalism has been done. This is really an attempt on the part of these persons to throttle the right protected under the Article 19 (1) (A) of the Constitution of India.
Sir, a very popular slogan being given is that of ‘simultaneous election’. I see now everywhere there is a clamour for ‘simultaneous election’. I don’t know why this is being thrust upon us. I am sorry to say that when this is under discussion in the Standing Committee, how can the honourable Prime Minister go on saying everywhere; about simultaneous election? This is the matter of the Standing committee.
In our country, people cast vote and elect their representatives for a period of five years. Can anybody curtail that constitutional right? In our country in 1984, there was a government where one single party was the majority. In 1989, there was no majority, in 1991- no majority, 1996- no majority, 1998- no majority, 1999- no majority, 2004- no single party majority, 2009, no single party. Then in 2014 only one single party got majority.
Sir, there are different states. In one state there may be an alliance government; we do not know when they will fall. Let me give an example. Suppose in 2019, elections are held in every state and the Parliament. Say, the ruling party fails to get majority and in 2020 the allies withdraw their support, will there be simultaneous elections in 2020 in Parliament and all States? Can it be done? Can you take away the right?
You are thrusting upon something which really hits the basic structure of the Constitution. We are really debating but I’m sorry to say how this can be made a part of the President’s speech? I’m really very sorry. When a Standing Committee is examining the matter, one should refrain from making comments on that. Let the Prime Minister show one example, along with the parliamentary elections, all the states where the ruling party is BJP, let them hold a election. Including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Assam. Let him set up that example. We want to see this example from the Prime Minister of India. Only big lecture will not do, let him do it. Let him show his spirit. Let the Prime Minister show his spirit. Let the Prime Minister show his enthusiasm for holding parliamentary election along with all the BJP ruled states including Gujarat, Assam and Uttar Pradesh. We want to see that.
Sir, it is stated that charity begins at home; let the charity begin from Prime Minister’s home state. Let elections of all BJP ruled states including Gujarat, Assam and Uttar Pradesh be simultaneously held along with the parliamentary election. Let us see. We want to see.
Now Sir, I’m coming to ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’. The poor got LPG cylinders under this scheme. But they cannot afford gas refills. Data shows that YoY increases in the consumption of LPG rose, from 9% to 9.8%, from 2015-16 to 2016-17, while the increase in LPG customers in the same time period rose from 10.2% to 16.2%. Almost in 95% of cases the customers are not returning for a refill after receiving the connection and cylinder for free of cost. This can probably be attributed to the high cost of even a subsidised cylinder. That is the neat result. Government washes its hands off after giving a connection but where are the refills? The question is not the excellence in target for the distribution of LPG connection but he needs to look into whether the scheme has actually been successful or not.
Now, Sir, I come to “Swachh Bharat”. What has happened? Nothing. Nothing. Thousands & thousands of crores of rupees have been spent for the advertisement of the Prime Minister; nothing more than that. Only one day is reserved for Swachh Bharat – so that politicians can pose before cameras with brooms in hands. Sir, on the next day you go there, garbage is still there and no one is there to clean. No one from his party is there to clean. This is only for the purpose of advertisement, publicity, only publicity. All over India you go, there is a photograph. My question is how much money has been allotted for Swachh Bharat and out of that amount how much money has been spent for publicity.
Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) – all loans upto Rs 10 lakh that have been sanctioned after April 8, 2015, and for income generating activities other than fun-related, fall under the PMMY loan scheme. Each bank has a different interest rate for providing Mudra loans; it also depends on the person or business that applies. If you have a good load history then you will get loans at better interest rate. If you are new then you will have to struggle a little bit. Under Mudra Shishu Yojana, banks are providing loans upto Rs 50,000. It is a basic scheme and banks are charging interest rate which is around 10% to 12%. For whom? Is this for the benefit of the poor people? You are charging interest rate of 10-12%. Central Government is not providing interest free loan under PMM Yojana.
Let the Prime Minister deliver his speech. The Hon. Home Minister is here; through him let him declare all loans should be free. No interest should be charged on any farmers; let him declare that. Let us see his courage. No publicity.
Sir, I will end with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr: “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.” But today, in our country, today’s leader is in love with publicity, not in love with humanity. We need a leader in our country now, who will run the country, in the near future, with love for the humanity, and respecting the Constitution, not caring for their own advertisement.
Thank you, Sir.