A tumultuous 2010 for Parliament

A tumultuous 2010 for Parliament

New Delhi: It was a tumultuous year for Parliament rocked as it was by disruptions on scams that led to the longest shutdown of an entire session for the first time in independent India.

Though disruptions of Parliament had become a routine affair in the last two decades, the just-concluded winter session of the House took the cake for its complete washout following opposition-government standoff over the demand for the appointment of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to go into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

The standoff showed no signs of resolution as the year draws to a close with the government not resiling from its position that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was enough to do the job.

There were full or partial shutdown of Parliament for as many as 38 of the total 83 days, costing the exchequer around Rs240 crore.

Ironically, it was the year in which the MPs got a bonanza with their salaries and allowances being raised manifold.

The year gone by will have the dubious distinction of certain leaders holding a ‘mock Parliament’ in the Lok Sabha, causing widespread concern.

In fact, the demand for a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum allocations could spill to the New Year with opposition threatening to stall the proceedings in the Budget Session too.

On an average, the government spends Rs6.35 crore per day to run Parliament, according to official figures.

While the Winter Session did not have proceedings for as many as 22 days, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were disrupted for eight days each in both the Budget and Monsoon sessions and saw work at the most for one to two hours on those days.

Though the shutdown in the Winter Session was total, the monsoon session saw the two Houses sitting late and working for extra days.

In fact, the total productive time of the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session was 94% while that of the Rajya Sabha 100%.

In the Budget Session, the productive time of the Lok Sabha was 66% of the scheduled time while in Rajya Sabha, it was 74%.

As a concerned Speaker Meira Kumar makes yet another attempt on Thursday to bring Parliament on rails, the war of words is continuing between the government and the opposition over the standoff on the JPC issue.

In fact, no protests over JPC formation on any issue have paralysed Parliament for 22 days as had happened this time.

Government is saying that extending the logjam to the budget session scheduled in February next would do “irreversible and immeasurable" damage to Parliament.

A highlight of Parliament this year was the passage of the long awaited Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha and government is saying that it planned to bring it before the Lok Sabha soon. Another key Bill passed was the Nuclear Liability Bill.

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have witnessed protests over the issue of price rise this year. It also saw debates on Commonwealth Games, judgement on the Bhopal Gas tragedy as also situation in the Kashmir valley.

Incidentally, this year saw the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha having new Leaders of Opposition with BJP’s Sushma Swaraj assuming charge in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha.