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Parliament lets us down again; 26 sittings over 39 days

By BS Reporter
September 08, 2011 09:05 IST
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In all, 26 sittings over 39 days. That is how long the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were to have sat to complete government legislative and other business when Parliament met for the monsoon session on August 1.

Two Bills were to be introduced, considered and passed. At least 35 other Bills were to have been considered and passed. This included two Bills to replace ordinances (which means if they had not been cleared, they would have had to be brought back as ordinances.)

The session ends on Thursday. Parliament passed just eight bills. An ordinance that was to have become a bill (having been cleared in the Lok Sabha) fell because of specious objections in the upper House on Wednesday.

Therefore, it will have to be repromulgated as an ordinance and passed in the next session. The time lost because of interruptions till last Friday in the Lok Sabha alone was 48 hours and 32 minutes.

In the Rajya Sabha, for the same period, it was 41 hours and 45 minutes. In percentage terms, this means the Lok Sabha was engaged in disruption for 36 per cent of the time available to it. In the Rajya Sabha, this was 38 per cent.

Important bills were to have been discussed. The Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design and Manufacturing, Kancheepuram, Bill was to have replaced an ordinance.

This could not happen because while the Bill was meant to address the issue of reservation of students, the fracas on Wednesday was caused over why there was no reservation (for SC, ST and OBC) for faculty.

There is just one day left to turn the bill that has already been passed in the Lok Sabha, into an Act. If this does not happen tomorrow, once again the government will have to issue an ordinance.

However, this was still better than the way time has slipped through the hands of MPs because of wrangling. The Seeds Bill, 2004, was to have been passed, with important implications.

The bill seeks to regulate the quality of hybrid seeds and check the sale of spurious seeds, besides increasing private participation in seed production and distribution. It has fallen by the wayside.

The Lok Sabha has already passed the Educational Tribunals Bill, 2010. All that the Rajya Sabha was required to do was discuss and pass it. It got no time. The Chemical Weapons Convention (Amendment) Bill, 2010, The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2007…. The list goes on.

There are some bills that had been cleared by a standing committee, its recommendations accepted by government. These now only require to be discussed and passed, because the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is committed to supporting them. 

"All they (BJP) want to do is obstruct and disrupt. They agree to pass bills in the standing committee and then oppose them in the House," said V Narayanaswamy, minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office.

 "They supported the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research Bill, 2010, in the standing committee.  But in the House, they opposed it. They claim that they did not realise that people would flock to this institution to the detriment of the IITs. But imagine the time we, as a nation, have wasted because the BJP awoke so late," said Narayanaswamy.

Adding: "The Prime Minister discusses all important issues with them. The finance minister asks them their opinion on everything. Pawan Bansal (the parliamentary affairs minister) talks to them about all problems. And, they tell us one thing but act quite differently on the floor of the House."

The BJP is equally clear. Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said, "It is a crisis of confidence. They (the government) are being found out. This government has no game plan."

The result is that Parliament gets very little done. On Tuesday, the Constitutional amendment bill to change the name of Orissa to Odisha nearly fell, because there was no quorum in the Lok Sabha.

Bells had to be rung, lobbies were cleared and ministers and party whips scrambled to collect members of Parliament who had left to go home because the upper house was adjourned for the day at noon and the lower house, also adjourned a few hours later.

The word recorded in the debates that will predominate the archives was 'interruptions'.

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