TRAI amendment bill passed in LS

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and BSP’s Mayawati came as saviors for the BJP on Monday in passing the TRAI Amendment Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha, to legitimise the appointment of former telecom chief Nripendra Misra as prime minister Narendra Modi’s principal secretary.

In the midst of strong opposition from the Congress, the passage of bill came as a sigh of relief for the new government. Now, the bill will be placed in the Rajya Sabha for the final clearance, where Congress is the single largest party. However, many BJP leaders feel that even in Rajya Sabha they will manage to pass the bill as other opposition parties don’t want any confrontation over Misra’s appointment as principal secretary to the PM.

Commenting on Trinamool Congress’s support to the TRAI Amendment Bill, party leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said, ‘Being a sensible and matured political party we don’t see any reason for not supporting the person the PM wants as principal secretary. He (Modi) is free to select any officer whom he thinks competent enough to handle the post. Everyone should allow the office to function smoothly.’

The bill, if approved by 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 make a safe passage for Misra to join the PM’s team will be the first ‘Act’ to be amended by the NDA government after taking charge in May.

In the Rajya Sabha, 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. On 11 July, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has tabled the bill in the Lok Sabha amid loud protests from the Congress who questioned its constitutional validity. 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.
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