New Delhi, April 7: In what has been the least productive session of Parliament yet, both the Houses were adjourned sine die on Friday. Constant protests from the Opposition ensured that almost 250 working hours were wasted in all: 127.7 hours in Lok Sabha (LS) and 121 in Rajya Sabha (RS). The second part of the session began on March 5 comprising 22 LS sittings which were mostly disrupted. The LS spent just 1 percent of its time on legislative business while the RS fared a little better at 6 percent, say media reports. Amid the din of various protests, issues like the “dilution” of SC/ST Act couldn’t be taken up for discussion. The notice of no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition could also not be taken up.
RS chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan both tried to bring order to the respective house. Naidu asked the protesters not to turn the RS a “clog in the wheel” of progress and Sumitra requested them to look at the larger picture. However, both the houses continued to clock a dismal performance. Disruptions were held over an array of issues, from the SC/ST Act, bank scams, demand for Cauvery water management board to special status for Andhra Pradesh and vandalisation of statues.
Very few starred questions could be answered in either of the House; only five of 19 were answered orally in the RS and 17 of 580 were answered in LS. If you do the maths, around 0.58 questions were answered on each day in LS. The Upper House spent just three minutes on government bills while the Lower House spent all of 14 minutes on the same. Speaker Mahajan pointed out that the Lok Sabha functioned for only 34 hours and 5 minutes in the 29 sittings.
The Question Hour could not be taken up for 27 days due to disruptions and pandemonium. Even on Friday, members of AIADMK, TDP and the Congress trooped into the well, holding placards. While the rest of them trooped back on the Speaker’s appeal, TDP members continued to stay put, registering their protest at the denial of a special status to Andhra Pradesh.
There were similar scenes in RS with Naidu saying in his concluding address, “I am pained to note that it turned out to be an eminently forgettable one on account of utter disregard of the mandate of this important parliamentary institution”.
In this session, only five Bills, including the Finance Bill 2018 for which the Parliament was convened, were passed in the LS. There was no debate on the Finance Bill; it was passed in just 18 minutes. Rajya Sabha also passed one Bill.