Former Union Minister Naidu sworn in as Vice President

Veteran political leader M Venkaiah Naidu was sworn in as the Vice President of the country in a brief ceremony in the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan today. President Ramnath Kovind administered the oath of office to Naidu and the ceremony was attended by political leaders from several parties.

Dressed in his trademark white panche (lungi) – shirt attire, Naidu became the 13th person to hold the esteemed post. He is the 15th VicePresident, Hamid Ansari and S Radhakrishnan have both held the Vice-President’s office for two consecutive terms.

Naidu comes from a humble background and has made a remarkable career for himself in politics over the past four decades. BJP President, Rajya Sabha member and minister in various portfolios are some of the highlights of his resume.

One of the responsibilities for Naidu as a Vice President will include serving as the Rajya Sabha chairman. In relation to that, after being elected, he assured that as the chairman of the upper house, he would sincerely try to steer the functioning of the house without “fear or favour” and would uphold its integrity and decorum with the cooperation of all its members.

Sources – The Hindu , TOI

Image Source – Vipin Kumar/HT Photo

Connaught Place to become car free zone from February

Visitors at Connaught Place, Delhi will now be able to walk without a hassle from unending lines of cars, as the middle and inner circle of the iconic market will turn into a pedestrian zone starting from February until the following three months. This came under the pilot smart city project, where in a meeting, Union Minister for Urban planning and development, M Venkaiah Naidu gave consent for carrying forward the project. He also discussed the feasibility of developing sidewalk cafes, public plazas, holding light and sound show and street festivals.

New Delhi Municipal Council (NMDC) and Delhi Police who were also present at the meeting, have stated that this would enable them to provide effective security for pedestrians and promote pollution free environment amidst the rising PM 2.5 levels. This also ensures effective ‘park and ride’ services where visitors can park their vehicles in major parking areas such as Shivaji Stadium and Baba Kharak Singh Marg Palika parking, thus using fossil-fuel free modes such as bicycle and E-rickshaws for commuting.  Total parking capacity at these locations is 3,172 and on an average, only 1,088 vehicles are being parked.

However, traders operating in Connaught Place opposed the proposition as this will take a serious hit on the business. “Instead of easing congestion, it would result in traffic jams in the Outer Circle all the way to Mandi House, New Delhi”, Traders Association president Atul Bhargawa said.

Sources: Hindustan Times, Times of India

Opposition observes “black day” in parliament over demonetisation

Opposition parties on Thursday have staged protest against the government’s demonetisation policy by observing “black day” near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Parliament premises. This has resulted in disruption and later, adjournment of both the houses for the day.

The opposition used the occasion to charge the Prime Minister of not acknowledging the larger scale problems sparked by the decision. The protest was led by congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and comprised mainly of Samajvadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Trinamool Congress with over a hundred opposition leaders, notably Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jyotiraditya Scindia.

“Farmers are dying and the Prime Minister seems to be having fun. He should come to parliament to debate on demonetisation, we will not let him run away,” Rahul said.

TMC staged a silent protest wearing a black ribbon at their heads and arms.

Since the beginning of the winter session, opposition has held up both the houses of the parliament demanding the PM to speak up on the matter.

Meanwhile The President has condemned the protest stating that the disruption of Parliament in unacceptable. “Parliament is a place to debate. No MP has the right to disrupt the house. For God’s Sake, please do your job… You are meant to transact Parliament business; not to disrupt it,” he added.

Union Minister Venkaih Naidu in his usual tone has retaliated against the opposition calling the “black day” as “kala dhan samarthan divas” (A day to support black money).

SOURCES: Outlook,  Rajya Sabha TV


Tributes paid to the People’s President on first death anniversary

On the first death anniversary of former president APJ Abdul Kalam – union ministers Manohar Parrikar and Venkaiah Naidu unveiled a life-size statue at his burial site in Rameswaram. They also laid a foundation stone at the site in Tamil Nadu according to Scroll.

The Defence ministry will unveil an exhibition dedicated to the People’s President called “Mission of Life”.
Srijan Pal Singh will pay tribute in his book, What Can I Give? Life Lessons from My Teacher, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
This book will give a look into Kalam’s life – sharing stories and unseen pictures as reported by PTI.
Royalties from the book would go towards the education of underprivileged children.

IIM Shillong – where Dr Kalam passed last year after suffering a heart attack while delivering a speech, is organizing a lecture series as a tribute. The auditorium in the new campus would be named after him, with a life-size statue to be placed outside.


Budget session begins, PM Modi hopeful of a fruitful session

The Budget session of the Parliament began on Tuesday and is all set for a stormy start as discussions on the JNU case and suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula has been scheduled on 24th, which is the first working day of the Parliament.

President Pranab Mukherjee, while addressing both the houses ahead of the budget session, listed out various achievements of the BJP government and said that the Parliament reflects the supreme will of people and democratic temper calls for debate & discussion and not disruption or obstruction.

Post the two all-party meetings held by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Venkaiah Naidu on Monday, the Opposition accused the government for “setting the agenda for disruption” even before the session began.

PM Modi, while addressing the media in a customary practice ahead of the Parliament session, said that he was hopeful of a ‘fruitful session’ and ‘constructive debates’. Describing the Opposition parties as “friends”, he said that they have been showing positive attitude and the whole country and the world is paying attention to the budget session.

Further, Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha said that no contentious bills should be brought to the table and only bills on which there is a general agreement should be allowed. He also stated that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill would not come in the first half of the session and that a view could be taken on the fate of the bill by the second half.

Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, however, said that the meetings with the Opposition were very positive and that they were in favour of smooth functioning of the Parliament. He also reiterated that the government was open to discussion on any issue, whether it is JNU, Pathankot terror attack, Hyderabad Central University issue or even the Jat reservation stir.

The government has a legislative agenda of 32 items for the session, out of which 11 bills are pending in the upper house and one in Lok Sabha.

Sources: The Hindu, Indianexpress