Rajya Sabha, on the first day of its historic 250th Session today took up a discussion on ‘Role of Rajya Sabha in Indian Polity and the Way Forward’. Setting the context for the discussion, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has said that the Upper House has played a significant role in the socio-economic transformation of the country during its journey of last 67 years but ‘all is not well’.
Chairman Naidu referred to the role of Rajya Sabha in transforming the state of affairs in the country at the stroke of freedom marked by poverty, illiteracy, poor healthcare, low level of industrialization and economic growth, social orthodoxy, poor infrastructure, unemployment etc. to being now a leading engine of economic growth and a voice being heard in the complex global order besides substantially improved quality of life of the people.
The Chairman stressed the need for collective reflection over the journey of the House so far and a sincere introspection over the missed opportunities on the landmark occasion of 250th Session of the House, failing which he said ‘there is an inherent risk of making ourselves irrelevant’.
Chairman Naidu urged the Members to look within to find the answer to the question ‘Are we contributing to enhancing the standing of this august institution by our words and deeds both within the House and outside?’ in the context of wider public concern about the functioning of the House.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu made 10 suggestions for consideration by the Members of the House for making a difference to the functioning of the House, henceforth. These are;
- Adequacy of the number of the sittings in the context of the House meeting for about 60-70 days in a year now, keeping in view the nature and volume of legislations and time available for discussing issues of public importance;
- Adequacy of the present Rules of Business of the House and changes required, if any;
- Adequacy and effectiveness of various instruments presently available for the members to present their views on legislative proposals and raising issues of public concern;
- Adequacy and effectiveness of the present procedures currently being followed in the House;
- Norms to be followed for enabling equitable and wider participation of members in the debates;
- Ensuring that members with right background and abilities to enrich debates are sent to the House;
- Ensuring self-discipline on the part of the members to ensure compliance with the Rules of the Business for the orderly functioning of the House;
- Requirement of infrastructure support to the members to enable informed contribution to the debates in the House ;
- Ensuring adequate presence of members in the House all through the proceedings and in the meetings of the Department Related Standing Committees and other committees of the House; and
- Technology adoption for improving the functioning of the members and for more lively conduct of the proceedings of the House.
Stating that both the Upper and Lower Houses are virtually co-equal except in matters of No Confidence Motions and Money Bills, Chairman Naidu stated that Rajya Sabha has a specific role and mandate evolved from the discussions in the Constituent Assembly, the core of which is that Members should enrich the proceedings of the House with enlightened discussions and debates by bringing into play their wisdom, knowledge and expertise and present various perspectives on each issue under consideration of the House.
On the role of the Upper House, Chairman Naidu quoted former President of India and veteran Member of Rajya Sabha and said; “It will be desirable on the part of the Members of Rajya Sabha to remember that they have to maintain a fine balance between becoming obstructionist and redundant. The Rajya Sabha cannot mischievously veto everything and anything that the Lok Sabha passes and become obstructionist, and at the same time, it should not rubber-stamp anything and everything passed by the Lok Sabha, lest it becomes redundant. “
Chairman Naidu also called for sending and nominating Members of the right quality and ability to Rajya Sabha.
The Chairman stated that since the first sitting of the House on May 13, 1952, the Upper House, during the last 249th Session held 5,466 sittings and passed 3,817 Bills.
Chairman Naidu complimented all the 2,282 persons who have been Members of Rajya Sabha so far, the Presiding Officers, Panel Chairpersons, Ministers, Leaders of the House and Opposition and all others concerned for their participation in and contribution to the 67-year journey of Rajya Sabha.