Reminding the members of Rajya Sabha of the landmark occasion of the country completing 100 years of representative democracy, Chairman Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu appealed to the leaders and members of the House to enable disruption free functioning of the House during the important Budget session underway. Shri Naidu also complimented the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees of Rajya Sabha for working overtime on behalf of the Parliament by holding 55 meetings during the inter-session period.
When some members resorted to slogan shouting demanding repeal of the three farm bills after functioning of the House for 43 minutes on the first full working day today, Shri Naidu reminded them of their objection to not having the Zero Hour and Question Hour during the Monsoon session last year as ‘murder of democracy’ while seeking to disrupt the Question Hour today. He asserted that the three farm Bills were discussed at length as per scheduled time during the last session.
During his observations at the start of the proceedings today, Chairman Shri Naidu informed the members that the country has crossed an important landmark of 100 years of representative democracy in the country with the first direct elections to imperial and provincial legislative councils held during the winter of 1920 further to the Government of India Act, 1919. He observed that “Democracy is all about participation of people in the management of public affairs and policy making through their elected representatives. The occasion of being a 100 year old modern representative democracy calls for serious reflection on the state of democracy and the functioning of legislatures in our country”. Shri Naidu suggested to the members to resolve to enhance the dignity of the House through disruption free proceedings.
Referring to some unfortunate incidents happened during the last monsoon session, Shri Naidu observed that all along he has been appealing to members to prevent such situations as they affect the interests of the nation and the Parliament and appealed to the members to make this Budget session more purposeful by adhering to the rules and regulations and participating in the debates in a meaningful manner. He referred to the assurances given by the leaders of various parties of full participation in the debates in the meeting on Sunday last.
Functioning of the Committees
Chairman Shri Venkaiah Naidu complimented the 8 Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees of Rajya Sabha for working overtime on behalf of the Parliament during the inter-session period and holding a total of 55 meetings for a total of 110 hours and 04 minutes. He informed the House that the average duration of each of these meetings improved to 2 hours and 07 minutes as against the earlier average of 1 hour 54 minutes per each meeting. Shri Naidu hoped for further improvement given the efforts and the costs involved in holding the meetings of the Committees.
Shri Naidu particularly referred to the Committee on Commerce for reporting substantial improvement holding 10 meetings during the inter-session period for a total duration of 26 hours 18 minutes. The average duration of each of these meetings improved to 2 hours 37 minutes as against the earlier duration of 1 hour 42 minutes per each meeting.
Shri Naidu further said that the Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture held the highest number of 11 meetings for a total of over 22 hours and also visited the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth & Sports reported the highest average attendance of 53.45% in 7 meetings held during the inter-session period. Shri Naidu complimented the Chairmen and members of all the Committees and the Secretariat for their spirited work during the inter-session period on behalf of the Parliament.
Increase in use of mother tongue by members of Rajya Sabha
Chairman Shri Naidu informed the House that during the last two years the use of mother tongue by the members in the proceedings of the House has risen to five times and four languages namely, Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani and Santhali having been used for the first time in the House since its inception in 1952 and a few other languages being used after a gap of several years. Members responded with thumping of desks to this observation of the Chair.
On Notices under Rule 267
Responding to the Notices submitted by some opposition leaders under Rule 267 seeking suspension of Business listed for the day to discuss the ongoing farmers agitation, Chairman Shri Naidu gave reasons in detail for not accepting the same. He observed that the same issues can be taken up for detailed discussion during the 10 hour long debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address which is to begin tomorrow.
Elaborating in the matter further, Shri Naidu said; “I propose to take up the discussion on the Motion of Thanks today itself as the first item so that members get opportunity to share their views and concerns about the farmers agitation and related issues but it was pointed out that by convention the discussion on Motion of Thanks is first taken up in the Lok Sabha and this House can do so only after the discussion has begun in the other House. This position was accepted in the BAC meeting (held on Sunday last). Accordingly, discussion on Motion of Thanks is scheduled for tomorrow.”
Chairman Shri Naidu further observed; “I understand the concerns of the members (who gave Notices) over the situation and the need to resolve the issue in nation interest. As Chairman of this august House I can’t go into the merits of the positions taken by the agitating farmers and the Government. Both the sides have so far held several rounds of discussions and of late, expressed desire to further continue the dialogue. Neither any section in this august House nor the Government are opposed to discuss the issue of farmers campaign and related issues and its needs to be done at the earliest and it is a matter of time. ”
Shri Naidu appealed to the shouting members not to disrupt the proceedings of the House as the discussion on farmers issue can be taken up at length during the debate on Motion of Thanks since the President of India referred to the three farm Bills and the farmers agitation in his address to members of both the Houses (on 29th of this month).
Responding to the observation of a member, Chairman Shri Naidu asserted that the three farm Bills were discussed at length for the scheduled time of over four hours during the last session even as there could be different views on the voting on those Bills.
First adjournment of the House
Chairman Shri Naidu was compelled to adjourn the House for the first time during the day till 10.30 am after the House functioned for 43 minutes including 13 minutes of Question Hour. Some opposition members who boycotted after the Chair announced rejection of Notices under Rule 267 later returned to the House and resorted to slogan shouting.
Chairman Shri Naidu reminded the agitating members that when Zero Hour and Question Hour were given up due to shortage of time during the Monsoon session last year, opposition leaders described the same as the ‘murder of democracy’. He expressed concern that the Question Hour is being disturbed this time around.