Inu, Menon vote for amendments after recording objections
Workers Party’s president Rashed Khan Menon and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal’s president Hasanul Haq Inu said that the five lawmakers of their parties, which are partners of the ruling alliance, had voted for the Constitution (15th Amendment) Bill 2011 with objections to five Clauses of the Bill.
They recorded their objections against Clause 2 which puts Bismillah-ir-Rahman-Ar-Rahim before the preamble of the Constitution, Clause 4 that retains Islam as the state religion, Clause 6 that identifies the people as Bangalees, Clause 14 that identifies the ethnic minorities as ‘tribes, minor races, ethnic sects and communities’ and Clause 16 which allows religion-based politics.
When the speaker put all the clauses of the Bill in a package for division vote, the lawmakers of Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, and woman lawmaker Amina Begum of the National Awami Party, who was nominated by the Awami League, abstained from voting.
Chief whip Abdus Shahid, senior Awami League lawmakers Tofail Ahmed, Abdul Jalil, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam and finance minister AMA Muhith rushed to Inu, Menon and other objectors, and insisted that they vote.
The proceedings of the House remained stalled for at least ten minutes when the AL’s senior leaders were trying to persuade the objectors to cast their votes in favour of the Bill, reminding them that their seats would become vacant if they abstain from voting as they were elected under the symbol of the ‘boat’, the Awami League’s symbol.
Article 70 of the Constitution says that ‘a person elected as a Member of Parliament in an election at which he was nominated as candidate by a political party shall vacate his seat if he resigns from the Parliament or votes against the party’.
Menon said that Inu and he had submitted their notes of dissent to the committee and later insisted that the speaker put the Clauses of the Bill separately to vote. ‘But the speaker put all of the clauses in a package and so we decided to abstain from voting.’
‘But senior leaders of the ruling party and the chief whip came to us and insisted that we vote. After a few minutes of persuasion, we reached a compromise — that we dissenters would mention our objections while voting,’ said Menon.
Inu and Menon said that they had objected to Clauses 2, 4, 6, 14 and 16 of the Bill.
Inu also expressed his resentment at the allotment of only two minutes for discussion on their proposals for some amendments to the Bill.
As Menon entered the chamber from the lobby after voting, senior AL lawmaker Suranjit Sengupta teased him, saying, ‘It has to be yes or no. There is nothing in the middle.’
Menon and Inu placed their objection motions during discussion on the Bill.
JSD lawmaker Shah Zikrul Ahmed and women lawmaker Amina Ahmed took part in the discussion and proposed several amendments in relation to ‘Bismillah’, Islam as the state religion, religion-based politics, nationality and recognition of the ethnic minorities as indigenous people.
All their 65 amendment proposals were, however, rejected by voice vote.
The lone independent lawmaker, Fazlul Azim, raised an objection motion and wanted to have the Bill sent back to the scrutiny committee for testing public opinion, but was later turned down by voice vote. He walked out thrice during the passage of the Bill.
Chief whip Abdus Shahid said that Amina Ahmed might not have understood the instruction initially but she voted after being reminded by him.
He said Inu and Menon were confused about the distinction between abstaining from voting and voting against the party, so they voted when the confusion was cleared up.
courtesy: New Age
Menon, Inu object to state religion
During discussions on the Constitution (15th Amendment) Bill 2011 in parliament on Wednesday, Workers Party president Rashed Khan Menon and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JaSaD) president Hasanul Haque Inu placed their objection motions.
Among others, Shah Zikrul Ahmed (JaSaD) and Amina Ahmed (NAP) took part in the discussions. All of them raised amendment proposals on 'Bismillah', Islam as state religion, religion-based politics, nationality and recognition of the indigenous people.
All the 65 amendment proposals were, however, rejected in voice votes.
Earlier, lone independent MP Fazlul Azim raised an objection motion to send the bill to the scrutiny committee for testing public opinion which was later turned down by voice votes.
Law minister Shafique Ahmed placed the Constitution (15th Amendment) Bill 2011 in parliament at 11:50am, containing 55 recommendations.
MPs then began deliberating on the bill that seeks to rescind the caretaker government system and bring other basic changes.
Azim criticised the recommendation for cancelation of the caretaker government system.
Menon proposed amendments to seven points of the bill including 2, 4, 6, 14, 15 and 16. He demanded recognition of other communities living in the country.
"I've asked for dropping the second point where Bismillah has been added.
"The people expected that the Grand Alliance government would return to the 1972 constitution where people will have no scope to do politics using religion. But the provision has strengthened religion here."
He proposed that Islam could be added as the religion of the majority people of the republic other than state religion.
Inu in his speech said: "People can have religion, but not the state. I'm demanding deletion of points two and four."
They also demanded recognition of the indigenous people.
Azim in his objection demanded the caretaker government system be retained.
"The nation is divided over the bill. The constitution could be amended, it was done earlier too with two-thirds majority. But this time some fundamental issues are to be changed.
"There's no need to rush with these issues. Why is such hurry with such a big charter? I don't want the nation to make a mistake on the issue," he said.
But as his allotted time expired, his microphone was switched off. In protest, he walked out 11:57am, but returned in three minutes.
The law minister in his speech protested the proposal, which was later rejected by voice votes.