Top Business Leaders Sign Petition To End Parliament Paralysis

12/08/2015 10:43 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, left in blue turban, watches as India’s opposition Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, center, and other lawmakers shout slogans against the government during a protest in the parliament premises in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The opposition has been demanding that two leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party resign for allegedly helping a former Indian cricket official facing investigation for financial irregularities. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI -- With two days left to go for the Monsoon Session to conclude, top business leaders of the country have signed a petition to end the deadlock in parliament which is holding up discussion on several bills including the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.

Over 17,000 people had signed the Confederation of Indian Industry petition by Wednesday morning.

"Recent events have been disheartening. They have the potential of eroding popular faith in Parliament. Perpetual disruption can never be the rule. Street demonstrations against the Chair of the Lower House are of unprecedented scale," the petition reads.

Demanding resignations of three senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, the Congress Party has blocked parliament and called for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address recent controversies. They have shouted slogans and displayed placards in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over the past three weeks.

READ: Arun Jaitley Says Gandhi Family Can't Bear Anyone Else In Power

With criticism mounting over the Monsoon Session being a washout, opposition parties including the Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party and the All India Trinamool Congress have withdrawn their support for a complete blockade. But the Left parties continue to back the Congress Party's demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi scandal, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the Vyapam scam.

The Modi government will once again attempt to table the GST Bill for discussion in Rajya Sabha today. The GST bill, which will bring about the biggest indirect tax reform since 1947, can only pass with a two-thirds majority vote in the upper house of parliament.

READ: 7 Things You Need To Know About GST

The petition, signed by business leaders including Adi Godrej, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Rahul Bajaj, Kris Gopalakrishnan, and Sunil Kant Munjal, said, "Important laws like the Constitution amendments in Goods and Services Tax which improves India’s growth rate is held up. GST has taken a long time in coming and has taken years of consensus building, and CII has time and again reiterated that this could significantly contribute to India’s and States’ growth."

See the full list of signatories here.

Meanwhile, India Inc's petition has been dismissed by the Congress Party, which is projecting it as an example of the Modi government being backed by powerful corporates.

Congress Party leader Manish Tiwari told ANI that industrialists should not give advice on selective issues, and he questioned why they were not concerned about BJP leaders (Swaraj and Raje) aiding a fugitive like Lalit Modi or the massive recruitment fraud in Madhya Pradesh.

Communist Party of India (M) leader Sitaram Yechury suggested that the corporate leaders, who signed the petition, should appeal to Modi for an investigation.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that people across cross-sections from society had signed the petition. "They are the voice of the people," he told ANI.

Here is the full text of the petition.

"Democracy is a great Indian asset. Parliament which reflects the will and mandate of people represents the sovereign. Parliament debates and legislates. Every inch of Indian Territory and every ideological shade is represented in this forum. Parliament is held in great esteem by the people.

Parliamentary protest are not unknown. Parliamentary stalemates can never be permanent. Parliamentary paralysis can lead to weakening of India’s democracy. There is a spread of political power between the opposition and the Government in Indian Parliament. Both have an important role to play. Both have responsibility to discuss and resolve political issues. Political consensus represents the best practice in Indian democracy.

Recent events have been disheartening. They have the potential of eroding popular faith in Parliament. Perpetual disruption can never be the rule. Street demonstrations against the Chair of the Lower House are of unprecedented scale. The Lower house is without some opposition members. The upper house is perpetually adjourned. The importance of uninterrupted legislative function of the Parliament can hardly be over emphasized. Important laws like the Constitution amendments in Goods and Services Tax which improves India’s growth rate is held up. GST has taken a long time in coming and has taken years of consensus building, and CII has time and again reiterated that this could significantly contribute to India’s and States’ growth. India has to grow in order to alleviate poverty and create jobs. Parliament did not get an opportunity to discuss important issues, like floods, security issues, other economic priorities, etc. It is only a debate which brings out the facts to enable people to form a fair and objective opinion on important matters.

We, therefore, urge all political parties to have a collaborative and consultative process in the Parliament and allow the Parliament to function, to debate and legislate."

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