Opposition loses vote on NCTC in Rajya Sabha as Gov wins new allies

A combined amendment bill put forth by the opposition in India’s upper house on NCTC Rajya Sabha was defeated by 105 votes to 82 in a surprise outcome today.

The amendment, intended to take the sting out of the National Counterterrorism Center legislation brought in by the government.

Though the government had only 94 votes, it got an extra 11 votes from parties such as the SP and BSP.

The amendments, supported by the Left parties and the BJP, were widely expected to pass as a signal to the Central government not to meddle in the powers of the state government through the NCTC.

Most state parties, such as Congress’ UPA allies Trinamool Congress (of Mamata Bannerjee) and the Tamil parties have been publicly opposed to the NCTC legislation. The legislation, for the first time, gives a central agency the power to make arrests — hitherto a privilege of the central government. Under India’s constitution, law and order is a state subject and the Centre may not legislate on the subject.

“People make statements outside, but vote [with the government] inside.. The SP and BSP have become one,” BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said, commenting on the outcome.

Both BSP and SP have also publicly opposed the nature of the legislation.

It is expected that DMK and both UP parties — BSP and SP — voted with government. Trinamool had abstained.

“No one wants a mid-term election,” said an SP leader, explaining its decision to back the government in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Both BSP and SP supremos, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, face big corruption investigations against them by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — controlled by the central government.

The BJP walked out of the Rajya Sabha protesting the move by the government to “destroy the federal structure of the constitution.”