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Big political victory for BJP as TRAI Amendment Bill passed in Lok Sabha

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Monday, July 14, 2014 - 13:51

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava

New Delhi: In a big political victory for the BJP government, the TRAI Amendment Bill introduced by it to legitimize the appointment of former telecom chief Nripendra Misra as Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s Principal Secretary was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday despite tough resistance from the Congress party.

Making things easier for the ruling BJP, Mamata Banerjee`s Trinamool Congress and Congress ally BSP led by Mayawati supported the TRAI Amendment Bill.

The Trinamool, which had joined the Congress in protesting against the government`s move and even planned to move a resolution, took a 180 degree turn on the issue.

"The TMC is a responsible party. The PM can choose any officer whom he thinks fit for the post. Everyone should allow the office to function smoothly," said Trinamool leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay.

The government now wants to see the bill passed in Rajya Sabha as well. With several opposition parties saying they don`t want a confrontation, the bill is unlikely to face trouble even in Rajya Sabha, where the Congress is the single largest party.

The bill, if approved by the Parliament, will replace its ordinance, or executive order, amending the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) Act, which barred Misra from taking any government post.

Passing the ordinance to allow Misra to join the PM`s team was among the first acts of the new government after it took charge in May.
In the Rajya Sabha, where the Congress is the single largest party, the BJP is banking on a divided opposition. The Nationalist Congress Party led by Sharad Pawar and the Left are likely to support the bill. The NCP president cited the example of TKA Nair, an IAS officer of Punjab cadre, who after retiring from service became principal secretary to Manmohan Singh when he was the Prime Minister.

Congress and Mamata Banerjee-led TMC had earlier said that they will move a statutory resolution to oppose the Bill in the Lok Sabha.

On Friday, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tabled the bill in the Lok Sabha amid loud protests from the Congress and the Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee questioning its constitutional validity.

After the bill was passed in Lok Sabha, clause by clause, the ruling BJP said, "Prime Minister should have the right to choose his officials."

The Congress has been criticising the government for showing undue haste in bringing a person specific ordinance.

Congress has raised objections to the government`s move to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India act, saying it was done in "unholy haste".

Misra, a 1967 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre who retired in 2009, joined the PMO the same day the ordinance was promulgated and the bill has been brought to give his appointment the requisite legal backing.

First Published: Monday, July 14, 2014 - 09:00
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