Lamenting frequent disruptions in the Upper House throughout the second leg of Budget Session, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said in his valedictory speech that an “eminently forgettable” session has come to an end.
The Rajya Sabha, which lost more than 124 hours of business time this session, was adjourned sine die on Friday.
“…an eminently forgettable one on account of utter disregard of the mandate of this important parliamentary institution and its responsibilities and missed opportunities,” he said while describing the session.
The session saw Chairman making repeated appeals for order in the house, which was marred with disruptions on several issues including Andhra Pradesh special status, Cauvery water dispute, multi-crore PNB fraud and Supreme Court’s ruling on the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
“I am disturbed to note a total breakdown in communication among various sections of the House that was at the root of the prolonged stalemate that ruined this important Session. This is not good for our parliamentary democracy of which our country has come to acquire a pride of place,” the Chairman said.
He also informed that 120 hours of business time was lost in this session as against 45 hours of work, rueing, “this is a sad commentary on the functioning of our parliamentary institutions reiterating the perception that they are on the decline,”
No legislative work was transacted except the passage of The Payment of Gratuity Bill, that too without discussion. The house also made a brief departure from disruptions to give farewell to the retiring members. However, that too was to postponed due to protests.
Referring to the House not transacting any substantial business, Chairman Naidu wondered if the fears of those who doubted the need for a Second Chamber during the debates in the Constituent Assembly were coming true.
“During the Constituent Assembly debates on the need for a Council of States, some Members feared that it would prove to be a clog (impediment) in the wheel of progress involving expenses and not making much contribution,” he said.
“Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, who headed the Union Constitution Committee for reporting on the structure and function of the future legislature of our country, had feared in 1936 that a Second Chamber will check any forward tendencies of the Lower House and will be reactionary. Are we making Nehru’s worst fear come true? We should not for the sake of our Parliamentary democracy and the people,” the Chairman asked.
Referring to the advocates of the Council of States, he recalled late Shri Anantasayanam Ayyengar, late Shri Gopalaswami Ayyengar and the first Chairman of Rajya Sabha late Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan justifying the Upper House on the ground that it would enable the genius of the people to express itself, checkmating legislations made by the other House in haste and in moments of passion and dignified debates on important issues of public concern.
The Chairman expressed concern over none of it happening during the just concluded Session.
Stating that concerns of the States being a major source of agenda of Rajya Sabha, the Chairman said that legislative and deliberative functions of the House were also important drivers of the agenda.
“This House of Elders is required to synthesise all these agendas so that a national agenda and a national perspective is evolved. We had all the time in the world to discuss all such agendas but we did not do it,” the Chairman said.
He, once again, urged the members not to become a party to the Rajya Sabha becoming a ‘clog in the wheel of progress’, referring to obstruction of legislation due to repeated disruptions which led to frequent adjournments.
“As a result (of the stalemate) we are all the losers. This includes the opposition, the ruling party, the Government and most importantly, the people and the nation. All of you need to now reflect on how we together end up in such a loose-loose situation when it could have been a win-win situation,” he said.
“It is time to wake up and look at the way forward,” the Chairman said as he referred to very little transaction of business.
The Appropriation and Finance Bill, the Supreme Court’s verdict on the SC/ST Act that led to violence in difference parts of the country, proven banking irregularities that shook the confidence of the people in the system, the issues of concern for Andhra Pradesh, the Cauvery Waters issue etc., could not be discussed, he said.