Elders look to block Motor Vehicles Bill

A. M. Jigeesh | | Updated on: Jul 23, 2018

Powers of States being curbed, says Opposition; Sena may back move

The Opposition in the Rajya Sabha is also reaching out to BJP allies such as Shiv Sena to corner the Centre over the controversial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill.

The Elders began discussing the Bill on Monday and it could be put to vote on Tuesday.

The possibility of the States losing revenue is the key point that binds the Opposition together. Sources in the Opposition told BusinessLine that a consensus is being built on two amendments moved by the CPI(M) on the rights of States, and on the need to protect the public transport system.

In Clause 21 of the Bill, the Centre has mooted a provision that it “may prescribe specifications, conditions for approval, retro fitment and other related matters for the alteration of motor vehicles…”.

“We want to replace the word ‘Central government’ with ‘State governments’. This will defeat the strategy of the Centre to grab the power of the States,” a senior Opposition MP told BusinessLine. Congress leaders in the House are learnt to be holding talks with all Opposition parties, including BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, and parties such as the TDP, the TRS, the AIADMK and the YSR Congress.

The second amendment that the Opposition may push is in Clause 29. The section on the national transportation policy to “promote competition, innovation, increase in capacity, seamless mobility and greater efficiency in transport…” is not to the liking of the Opposition. It wants the words ‘promote competition’ to be replaced with ‘strengthen public transport corporations’.

“At the moment, apart from the Congress, Left, NCP, SP, RJD and AAP, we have the support of AIADMK, TRS, TDP and YSRC. We are also talking to the Shiv Sena. This Bill has to be defeated in the interest of the country,” another Opposition MP said. Senior AIADMK member V Maitreyan told BusinessLine that his party had also moved amendments against the Bill and would push those amendments when the Bill is put to vote.

The main concern of the regional parties and the Opposition is that the Centre had “ignored” the suggestions of the House’s Select Committee. “The Bill doesn’t create any sense of road safety in the country. In the name of road safety, they have brought in some of clauses which have been amended only to help the corporate sector and dilute the powers of the States,” said Congress MP BK Hariprasad, who initiated the debate.

“Under Section 93, ‘aggregator’ is inserted in the Bill, which was not there in the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. How can the accidents be brought down if aggregators are invited? What is happening in different parts of the country after the big corporates like Uber, Ola came in the taxi sector? They assured the drivers that whoever attaches their vehicles to the company will get an amount of ₹1.5 lakh per month. But after 3-4 months, the drivers realised that they were getting a meagre amount and many of them left. It has also badly affected auto-rickshaws. There are lakhs and lakhs of auto drivers who are plying auto-rickshaws for self-employment,” argued CPI(M) MP Elamaram Kareem.

Published on July 23, 2018

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