New Delhi: The 14th Lok Sabha, marked by the fewest sittings in Parliament’s history, dogged by controversy and yet credited with some path-breaking legislation, ended its final session on Thursday, setting the stage for the next general election.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is recuperating after a major heart bypass surgery, didn’t attend the proceedings on the concluding day, on doctors’ advice.
End of session: Members leaving the Lok Sabha as the last session of the House concludes in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI
The effective strength of the lower House on the last day was 505. National elections are due to take place by May. The House, which was constituted on 17 May 2004 with a full strength of 545 members, was witness to a record number of disqualifications, including the expulsion of 10 member for their alleged involvement in a cash-for-questions scam.
The current Lok Sabha had only 332 sittings and it wasted 24% of its total time, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said in his speech on Thursday.
According to him, the House “spent a total of 1,738 hours and 45 minutes on actual sittings and wasted 423 hours... the time wasted in disruptions and adjournments due to disorderly scenes amounted to a total of about 24% of the time of the House, which is very alarming.”
The previous Lok Sabha, which was dissolved ahead of schedule, had 356 sittings.
Although the Prime Minister was absent, his speech was read out by leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee. Singh sent a message of hope amid the gloom caused by the global economic downturn.
“Let me assure this House that India would emerge the least affected among the countries of the world from the current economic crisis,” he said in his speech.
The Lok Sabha enacted 258 legislation, including the landmark Right to Information (RTI) Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) that ensures 100 days of employment to at least one member of a rural family in a year at minimum wages.
During the past five years, the ruling United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, has come under criticism from the Opposition for “weakening the parliamentary system”. The Opposition also hit out at the government for extending the monsoon session, which was convened on 21 July, to December and for passing several legislation without discussion. The ruling party, on its part, blamed the Opposition for disrupting proceedings.
The outgoing Lok Sabha saw an unprecedented crisis when Chatterjee was expelled from his party—the Communist Party of India (Marxist)—for refusing to step down after the party withdrew support to the government in July over the India-US civil nuclear deal.
In his concluding remark, Speaker Chatterjee said: “I took a considered decision to stand by the Constitution of India and not allowed myself to take a course of action, which would have, in my view, seriously compromised my position as Speaker of the supreme legislature of the country.”