Vivek Gupta’s Farewell Speech in Rajya Sabha


Sir, sab se pehle aapka bahut bhaut dhanyawad jo aapne mujhe is karyakaal mein bolne ka mauka diya. Kuch logon ko dhanyawad dena zaruri hai, Sir, zyada kuch nahin kahunga.

Sabse pehle parampita parmeshwar se shuru karunga. Mera leader, meri Didi, Mamata Bandyopadhyay jinhone mujhe yahaan behja, mujhe yahaan mauka diya, mere parivar ke log, Rajya Sabha mein mera leader, Derek Bhai, mere jitney bhi colleagues hain.

Sir aap, aapke pehle Hamid Ansari ji, Deputy Chairman Kurien Sahab. Jab bhi harsh words unhone kahaan tha but woh harsh words nahi the. Woh strict rehte the time ke liye, hum logon ko dekh ke hi 30 second kum ho jata tha. Secretariat ke jitne bhi log the, security vale, Central Hall mein hum logon ko chai, coffee pilaya; humare LAMP jo humare saath kaam karte the, notice office, question office, bill office, media sabka, aur yahan pe humare ‘lozenge-purna’ hai, Jaya ji unko bhi dhanyawad dena chahunga.

Sir, zyada kuch nahi kahunga. Sir is gate se jab hum log andar aate hain toh karib 130 crore logon ki ummeed aur ashaon ko lekar aate hain. Mujhe umeed hai ki, Sir… mera karyakal khatam ho raha hai par jo mere colleagues yahan reh jayege woh is asha aur umeed ko pura karne ki puri puri cheshta karenge. Unke liye kuch kuch main khali ek nivedan chodke jaa aha hoon ki personal attack aur character assassination yeh dono se jitna dur raha jaye utna acha hai. Hum log yahan rajneeti karne aaye hain, ek doosre ki dushmani, karne nahi aaye hain.

Sir, ek aapka chahida, ummeed hai ki jum log sab chahite hai, magar backbenchers ke liye aapki ek sympathy rehti thi… toh main aapse khali guzarish karna chahunga ki backbenchers ke liye jo sympathy hai usko aap barkarar rakhiyega. Hum log ke prati thoda leniency dikhayega. Aaj bhi Sir, woh hi ho raha hai, jo shuruwat mein bol rahein the unko lamba samay mila aur hum logon ko bola gaya do minute mein sametne ke liye.

Main chahunga ki mere jitney bhi colleagues hai, hum log jitna bhi bolein thoda sa respect deke hum logon ko sun liya jaye. Aur Sir, vachan se ya karam se kabhi bhi maine kisi ko bhi takhleef di toh uske liye main kshama maangta hoon.

Sir, aakhir mein, main bhi culprit hoon, mujhe bhi kabhi kabhi Well pe jana padta hai, kyunki, Sir, vedna aisi rehti hai ya peedha aisi rehti hai hum logon ki usko zaahir karne ke liye humein kabhi kabhi Well mein aana padta hai. Aur jo prjatantra ismein jo gatirodh aa jata hai iske liye main ek pankti main kehna chahunga, ‘dhool chadhi bhi thi magar hum aayna saaf karte rahein’.

Thank you Sir.


Vivek Gupta speaks on the increase in prices of kerosene


Sir, through you I want to bring up a very important issue. the Government of India has been increasing the price of kerosene by 25 paise per litre every month till April 2017.

The Census of India indicates that close to 43 per cent of the rural households depend on kerosene for lighting, and 1.9 million rural households and 5.9 million urban households depend on kerosene. Out of every 1,000 households, 265 use kerosene as the primary source of lighting in rural India; the number in Bengal goes higher, to 293.

There is historical evidence of many famous personalities having studied under kerosene lamps. Without giving any alternate arrangements, the increase in the price of kerosene by Rs 3 per litre is sending a very wrong signal to the poor people of India.

Sir, through you, I would like to urge the Government to roll back the price and give alternate means to the poor.


Vivek Gupta speaks on the delay in the delivery of passports


Sir, it is shocking to know is that almost 28 lakh passports are undelivered and there is no status shown in the dashboard of the Ministry. Another shocking fact is that 62 lakh passports are shown to be pending. Thirty-five per cent of police verifications are taking more than 180 days. The CAG report has also mentioned that police verification reports are taking time because there is no electronic connectivity provided to the passport offices. It is taking more than 71 days to process a passport. Sir, all this data is pointing to one thing, that there is something not correct at the Passport Kendras.
Although the Government collects more than Rs 10 crore as total fees per month through these Passport Kendras to process the passports, the consumers are not getting any service or delivery. Sir, through you I would request and urge the Hon. External Affairs Minister to look into the matter, order some inquiry and find some solution so that people get some relief. Sir, 2 lakh passports have been received as delayed and yet no compensation has been given. Thirty-seven Passport Kendras point out that they have the capacity to process only 12 lakh passports. Sir, the capacity needs to be augmented. Through you, I would request the Hon. Minister to do the same.



Vivek Gupta asks Supplementary Questions on internet connectivity to Gram Panchayats in Bengal


Sir, through you I would like to know from the Hon. Minister, out of the 3,354 gram panchayats in West Bengal, as mentioned in this report, only 219 have been lit. Sir, while I was studying this report, I was also studying some other data. This is way below the national average; in any other State, the work that has been done is much more. I am also happy to know that the money that is being spent is increasing every year. But even after increasing the money, the number of gram panchayats being given electricity is still very less compared to the national average.

Also, I have asked about gram panchayats, and it is mentioned in the reply about optical fibres that have been laid, the trenching and ducting that have been done. So, Sir, what is the link between the digging of the trenches and last-mile connectivity, that is, connectivity to the households.

I thank the Hon. Minister for his reply and hope he follows up on his reply fast. The Minister in his reply has mentioned that 25,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots have been set up by the rural telephone exchanges of BSNL. Sir, I would like to know, through you, from the Hon. Minister that how does he plan to bridge the gap between the gram panchayats and the households; because Sir, the last-mile connectivity that he just mentioned, this 25,000 is nowhere near sufficient to make it available to each and every household, which is very essential for the Digital India programme.


Vivek Gupta speaks on the Finance Bill


Thank You, Sir, for giving me an opportunity to speak today. Sir, as the Finance Bill is a little disturbing for me because my State – আমার সোনার বাংলা – my West Bengal is going to be deprived of Rs 4,000 crore every year just on account of non-division of the cess and surcharge that the Central Government is going to collect. Sir, the cess and surcharge over the last two to three years have jumped from a mere amount of Rs 20,000 or Rs 30,000 crore to 1.7 lakh crore.

Sir, rough pen and paper calculation shows that West Bengal will be deprived of Rs 4,000 crore because cess and surcharge is not shared with the States. Sir, what is more intriguing is that all the people who have spoken before me in the Council of States, have chosen not to raise this point because each and every State will get affected from this point.

Sir, the Finance Minister made forty amendments in Lok Sabha. I request him to make similar amendments here and remove all cess and surcharge and include them in the taxes, so that the States also get a share.

Sir, enough has been said before me but I would like to draw your attention to a few things. Sir, the tribunals have been merged and a lot of changes have been done. Sir, enough has been said about Money Bill. I just want to quote something, Sir. The Supreme Court, in the Madras Bar Association vs Union of India, in 2014, had held that “appellate tribunals have similar powers to High Courts and hence matters related to appointments should be free from the executive involvement.” Sir, I urge, through you, that all the tribunals, which are now being put under the executive control, should be free from executive control so that their independence is maintained.

Sir, Clause 50 of this Finance Bill is a very interesting clause. This government, our Prime Minister and Finance Minister, both of them have repeatedly said that they will not do any retrospective changes and they will not do any tax terrorism. But Sir, if you see Clause 50 and Clause 51 they have done exactly the same.

Sir, first I’ll refer to Clause 51 and I will just read from there. “In Section 132 of the Income Tax Act, in Sub Section 1, the following explanation shall be inserted and shall be deemed to have been inserted with effect from the first day of October 1975”. Sir, if this is not retrospective change, I fail to understand what is retrospective change.

Sir, another draconian provision, Clause 50, in section 132, Sir, where they are saying, “shall not be disclosed to any person of authority or Appellate Tribunal’. Sir, I was going through the Honourable Finance Minister’s reply in the Lok Sabha where he said he is doing it because he wants to protect the person who is giving the information. Sir, I am sure there is the Whistleblowers Act and other Acts that provide some confidentiality. Don’t disclose the name of the person but at least the reason can be given at the Appellate level. Sir, why is the assessee being denied a chance to defend himself? Why should he not know why the Income Tax people are doing certain seizure on him? Then again, Sir, 9(b) of Clause 50 says, merely by getting the sanction of the Director General provisionally any property can be attached. Sir, I think we are going back to the dark ages. I don’t know what will happen.

Sir, as I have said before, frequent changes – as many as 40 amendments – have been made in the Finance Bill on the day it was introduced in Lok Sabha. But, if you see this Finance Bill, here more than 300 amendments have been made. Sir, why does a tax law need so many amendments and so many changes every year? Why can’t we have a thorough discussion once and for all and move for a simplified ease of doing business, as this Government claims.

Sir, I just have three questions for the government. Sir, the Finance Minister in his reply to the Lok Sabha said that the RBI is still checking for fake notes in the currency deposited during demonetisation. Sir, I would like to know – whenever the Finance Minister speaks – how much loss has the RBI suffered on account of accepting fake notes? RBI’s loss means ultimately we are suffering.

He also said that there are many instances where people with five PAN cards have been discovered. Sir, I would like to know what is the number of such people who have been prosecuted. How many people have been discovered with multiple PAN cards?

And Sir, the last point. Even the Law Minister himself said on the floor of the House that in 46% cases, the government is the litigant. Is there any plan to reduce this reputation? Are they planning to file cases based on merit and not just on a monetary limit? Right now there are monetary limits for going to higher courts but not on the merit of the case.

Thank you.


Vivek Gupta speaks on the need for uniform travel advisories across airlines


Sir, recently the US and UK airports have banned all electronic items larger than mobile phones, like tablets and DVD players, from being taken into the cabins of planes. Sir, through you I would request that our country also reviews security arrangements as our country is also under a high amount security threat.

The larger issue here is that every day different guidelines are being issued by different airlines. Some airlines say that you can take a tablet inside while some say that you have to check-in a tablet. No uniform guidelines are being issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

There is so much of confusion at the airports – you go in, then you have to go for a security check, then you are supposed to go back and check in the luggage – there is utter chaos at the airport. Sir, through you I would wish to bring to the attention of the honourable Government and the Minister of Civil Aviation to look into this problem.

Sir, the bigger problem is that we lack around 2,500 CISF staff, according to various reports, which have made our airports more vulnerable. Sir, 26 hyper-sensitive airports are still not covered by the CISF, and we don’t know who’s handling the security.

Sir, various travel advisories are issued by other countries but we seem to be lagging behind in that. Sir, whenever there is a ban issued I would like the Government to issue a centralised ban so that there is no confusion for the passengers and they can easily go airports.

Thank you, Sir.

Vivek Gupta makes a Zero Hour Mention on the welfare of drivers of app-based cabs


Upsabhapati Mahoday, main sarvapratham aap ko dhanyavaad dena chahta hoon ki aap ne mujhe aaj mauka diya is vishay ko uthane ke liye. Sir, yeh vishay khali taxi drivers ka vishay nahin hain, yeh technology ka bhi vishay hain. Technology insaan ke liye banti hain, insaan technology ke liye nahin banta hain.

Sir, recently main Kolkata mein apne ghar se airport ja raha tha taxi mein – Uber ke gadi mein. Woh driver kaafi dukhi tha – raaste mein baat karte karte unhone bataya ki Uber ne apne rate kam kar diye hain aur Ola ne bhi apne rate kam kar diye hain. Dono mein bahut competition hua. Us chakkar mein Uber ne kya karna shuru kiya – inko pehle mobile ka paisa milta tha, woh bandh kar diya, commission badha diya jo Uber inse charge karti hain, in par Uber ne apna tarika joh use karti hain, woh badal diya.

Sir, Uber, Ola commercial companies hain, joh marzi kar sakti hain. Magar kya hum log aankh neech ke dekhte rahenge? Kya Sarkar is par koi niyantran nahin karna chahegi, regulation nahin karna chahegi? Sir, mazein ki baat yeh hain, jo taxi drivers Uber aur Ola ke andar kaam karte hain, inke paas jaane ke liye koi daftar nahin kyun ki Uber aur Ola ka India mein daftar hi nahin hain. Aur Government ki kis vibhag ke paas jaye shikayat karne ke liye, Government bhi nahin aati hain saamne is vishay par. Toh yeh jo drivers hain Uber aur Ola ke, inke paas koi sunwayi nahin hain, koi Court unko entertain nahin kar raha, aur Government unko koi support nahin kar rahi hain.

Yeh sab problems thodi thodi dikh rahin hain aaj. Aap sabhiko shayad yaad hoga, thodi din pehle Dilli, Bangalore aur sab jagah mein Uber aur Ola ke drivers strikes pe chale gaye the, is liye taxi ki bahut shortage ho gayi thi. Sir, hamare jaise kayi log hain joh aaj bhi taxi ka vyavhar karte hain airport jaane ke liye, station jaane aane ke liye. Sir, is situation par agar jaldi niyantran nahin paya gaya toh yeh bahut bada situation ho jayega.

Kyun ki yeh driver log gaadi kharidi pichle ek do saal mein Uber ke saath ya Ola ke saath paanch saal ka agreement karne ke baad. Ek ek driver ka 40,000 rupiya kharcha aa jata hain mahine mein, EMI, petrol, diesel ka kharcha mila kar. Aaj jo haalat aa gayi hain, agar woh bees ghante bhi kaam karega, toh bhi who chaalis hazar nahin kama sakta. Sir, unkjo udhaar lene ke liye apne jeevan gyapan kar raha hain aur, Sir, bahut laldh woh jab udhaar na chukka sakega toh woh suicide karne pahunch jayega. Uske baad hum log jagenge.

Is se behtar hain aaj humlog jaage aur is par kuch na kuch karavayi karein. Sir, in logon ke upar airport mein parking charge bhi laga di hain Sarkar ne, 150 rupiya kar ke, jitni baar yeh log airport jaate hain. Sir, inka commission jo badhaya giya hain, Sarkar ke knowledge hain ki nahin mujhe pata hain. Sarkar kya karna chahti mujhe nahin pata. Mein aap ke zariye Mantri saab ko request karna chahta hoon ki is pe kuch spashtikaran de aur in logon ke job mein jo takleefein hain usko nijaat de.


Vivek Gupta speaks in Rajya Sabha on the Union Budget


Sir, a lot have been said about the Budget by my esteemed colleagues before me. Sir, through you, I want to point out to the Hon. FM a very glaring fact. Sir, in the name of various cess and surcharge, Rs 1.7 lakh crore is collected every year. Sir, this surcharge and cess is not shared with the States.

Sir, through you I would like to know from the Hon. FM, why this discrimination is done and why the States are deprived from their share of the revenue? Why this practice, Sir, of increasing the cess and surcharge? Sir, why not simply increase the tax rates so that the all States – we are sitting in the Council of States – will also get the share of that revenue.

Sir, particularly my State, we have done a rough calculation, is deprived of at least more than Rs 10,000 crore only on this account. That too at a time when there is a a lot of talk about fiscal autonomy and giving greater fiscal power to the States. Sir, I would request you to ensure that I get an answer from the FM.

Sir, moving on,enough has been said about demonetisation; I just want to leave them with some questions. Yesterday Indian Express reported that there is a 10% drop in advance tax collections. All along we have been told that the economy is doing well, the tax collection is going well. Yesterday, March 15, 2017, was the last date of advance tax payments; so there is some effect of demonetisation.

Sir, whenever you use your debit card or credit card, the petrol pumps are charging 2.5% surcharge. The Government of India charges of 15% service tax on this also. And during demonetisation, till December 31, 2016, 0.75% – that is roughly about this service tax amount – was coming back to us. So every time I am swiping my debit card or credit card at the petrol pump, I have to pay 2.5% surcharge. Sir I don’t understand why the government is penalising us for using credit cards while talking of less cash economy.

Sir, this Budget also failed to correct the increasing invasion into the finances of the States. Sir, recently in Bengal two officers were appointed specially by this Central Government just to look over the operations of our treasury. Sir, the Bengal Government is the only recipient of these officers. No other State in India got these officers. Through you, I want to ask why this special treatment was given to Bengal? What has Bengal done to deserve this?

Sir regarding Aadhaar, the government makes an announcement one day and the next day they withdraw the announcement. Now I wonder if the Aadhaar will be made mandatory to even enter the Parliament; probably that is the only thing left.

Sir, on black money enough has been said. I want to point out only one point. Sir 74 percent of the FDA that comes into India comes from three tax havens. These are figures that the government knows. Our Hon. Finance Minister very easily quotes in the press that ‘so many’ people go out abroad every year yet ‘so many’ people pay taxes. But Sir, people don’t even need to go abroad; just send the money abroad and get it back. Everybody knows this. The Panama Papers have been leaked, but Sir, no action has been taken on them. Domestic demonetisation is there, I wonder if there is any plan to do some foreign demonetisation on these people.

Sir, before I end my speech I just want to you speak about tax terrorism that continues. I just want to point out a few things. Probably the government has overlooked these facts. Sir there are 23 crore PAN card holders and only 4 crore file their returns. Sir, what steps has the Government taken to attack these 23 crore people who are not filing their returns? We would like to know the detailed answer from the Minister.

Sir, the PAN card is used more as a photo identity card; my request to you would be to request the Hon. Finance Minister to even put the addresses also on the PAN card. Then it would become a complete photo ID card which has address and photo both. A lot of these people sir have taken PAN cards only because it is the only ID accepted by banks. Although there is a list given by RBI where 18 documents are supposed to be accepted but no bank, no financial institution, no government offices accept these. The first thing they say is give me your PAN card. So, even a poor person with an income of less than Rs 1 lakh per annum has to go for a PAN card. Therefore, the government is feeling that there are so many income taxpayers who are not filing their returns.

It has been pointed out that some 1.8 lakh crore cases are pending in tax disputes. But whenever we get our orders that dues are adjusted, no details of those dues are available on the website. When we go to the Income Tax Department, files are lost. There is total anarchy. Through you, I would request some special trial be done to help these taxpayers.

Thank you, Sir.



Vivek Gupta asks a Supplementary Question on manual scavenging


Sir, as per the Census, 1.68 lakh people are there yet the government has been able to identify only 12000 people and that too the budget for this Ministry has been slashed.

Sir, I want to know through you, from the honorable Minister, is the fund constrained. I also want to know about identifying the remaining people – almost 1.5 lakh people – who are still living a life without dignity. Thank you Sir.

Vivek Gupta speaks on alleged reports of shifting HQ of Hindustan Paper Corporation from Kolkata to Guwahati


Thank you for giving me an opportunity today. Sir, recently, some employees of a public sector undertaking, Hindustan Paper Corporation came to my office in Kolkata and met me. They have a grievance that their headquarters which is located in Kolkata is being shifted to Guwahati. When I asked them what are the reasons for shifting, they said they had no idea.

Sir, fortunately, one week later we had a meeting of the Industry Committee where Hindustan Paper Corporation had come to press further demand for grants. There, Sir, the situation became more mysterious because the MD told us that the plant in Assam is shut down because of the lack of raw material, coal  and everything, which is abundantly available in Bengal and yet they want to shift the headquarters.

When the MD was asked why they wanted to shift, he had no idea. On coaxing by the Committee, he told that they have been given some incentives by the Central Government to shift.

Sir, I do not understand why is the Central Government giving incentives to a central public sector company to shift the headquarters from Kolkata to Assam. Is it just because that the political colours of Assam have changed? Or it is something else, I would like to know from the Government through you, Sir.

Sir, Hindustan Paper Corporation is a very prestigious company; it is a very old company. It manufactures paper which is used for textbooks for children. But the NITI AYOG and DIPAM have recommended closure and shutdown. I do not want to go into their judgment, but when I asked the Industry Secretary,  they are saying that they have not made any such recommendations and in fact they are trying to revive and if they receive a little bit cooperation from the Government, this company can be revived. All the workers who are not getting their dues for the last two years will start getting their dues and this company can do very well.

Sir, through you, I want to know from the Government, firstly, what is the rationale of giving subsidies to shift the headquarters? Is it just political or not, otherwise, the employees who are working at the headquarters will face immense hardship. Sir, some of them have retired parents, some of them have homes. Sir, I do not understand the rationale. Kolkata has a port, a lot of important machineries is done through Kolkata port. Kolkata is a major metro. I do not understand what is the advantage they will get by shifting to Guwahati, which I would like to know from the Government, through you Sir.