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Government wins first NCTC battle, defeats opposition amendments

New Delhi(IANS): The Trinamool Congress, a bitter critic of NCTC but part of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), lent tacit support to the government in defeating the amendments after its MPs walked out of the house and didn’t participate in the voting.

The Samajwadi Party (SP), which also backs the government from outside, voted against the amendments that helped in defeating the motions. The ruling Uttar Pradesh party is also bitterly opposed to the NCTC.

MPs of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which supports the UPA from outside but was also opposed to the anti-terror agency, also walked out, reducing the number of effective members present in the house and voting.

The amendments were moved by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Left and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) after Prime Manmohan Singh told the house that the proposed anti-terror agency was “an important step” in “dealing with terrorism and dealing effectively” with it.

Manmohan Singh in his reply to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to President Pratibha Patil’s address dealt at length with NCTC row to address the concern that by setting up the proposed agency “the central government is trying to encroach upon the jurisdiction of the state government”.

The prime minister said consultations with state governments over the issue would continue and that the anti-terror agency would not be commissioned till a meeting was held with all chief ministers April 16.

“The idea of NCTC, you have all agreed is unexceptional. And the manner in which NCTC will function, there may be differences about tingle but I am confident that through discussions and dialogues, these differences could be narrowed down and a consensus can be arrived and that will be our sincere efforts.”

Not impressed by Manmohan Singh’s assurances, BJP’s Sushma Swaraj, who is also leader of opposition in the house, pressed for a vote on her amendment seeking deletion of the reference of NCTC from the president’s March 12 address to the joint session of parliament.

But the house rejected Sushma Swaraj’s motion. At least 141 members voted for the amendment and 226 voted against it. One member abstained.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) moved the second amendment motion. The motion by Basudeb Acharia of the CPI-M also met the same fate.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the ruling party in Odisha, moved the third motion, which was also defeated.

Trinamool leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been among the front runners along with her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik in opposing the formation of NCTC on the grounds that powers given to the agency would infringe on the rights of state governments.

But by walking out during the NCTC vote, Trinamool MPs tried to kill two birds with one stone. They didn’t vote in favour of a policy they have ferociously opposed and also saved some embarrassment for the government it is part of by not voting against it.

Banerjee who is in Delhi later said her party would continue opposing NCTC which she described as “worse than TADA and POTA” – the two anti-terror acts that were scrapped after complaints over their misuse.

The West Bengal chief minister met the prime minister and among other things discussed with him the issue.

The agency was supposed to be formed March 1, but this was delayed after all non-Congress states wrote to the prime minister opposing it.

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