TRAI Bill passed in RS
The Narendra Modi government on Tuesday successfully pushed through a bill to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to formalise the appointment of Nripendra Misra as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. The NDA has just 43 members in the Rajya Sabha and an effective strength of 240. Within three days of the oath-taking ceremony, the Cabinet on May 28 recommended the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the TRAI Act to facilitate the appointment of Mr. Misra. The TRAI Act bars a former chairman from taking up any government job after retirement.
Several parties had raised objections to the government taking the ordinance route particularly when Parliament was scheduled to meet in another 10 days. But, the government defended it on the ground that the Prime Minister should have the right to pick a person of his choice for such a crucial job.
The Congress had made a determined bid in the last few days to mobilise the support of all Opposition parties to scuttle the TRAI Bill. However, only the Left parties got on board while regional parties, such as the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, chose to side with the government.
The Congress suffered a blow after NCP chief Sharad Pawar announced that his party would not do anything to embarrass a government which was only a few weeks old. The Trinamool Congress had, at one stage, said it would oppose the Bill. But, when it came up for voting in the Lok Sabha on Monday, it went with the government.
Finding itself isolated, the Congress did not press for a vote in the Upper House when the Bill came up for voting. It was passed by a voice vote.