Budget Session one of 15th Lok Sabha’s least productive

New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) As the budget session, on of the least productive of the 15th Lok Sabha, abruptly wrapped up Wednesday, figures reveal that the house functioned for only half of its scheduled time.

The session lost 92 hours and 40 minutes due to disruptions. This makes it the second most disruptive session after the winter session of 2010, which lost over 124 hours to disruptions.

As per data compiled by think-tank PRS Legislative Research, the Lok Sabha worked for 49 percent of its scheduled time. This was significantly lower than the 2012 budget session, during which the productive time was 89 percent.

The Rajya Sabha functioned for 52 percent of its time during the budget session.

The 15th Lok Sabha could be be the least productive parliament session, with the productive time already being more than 70 percent lower than the last Lok Sabha.

This has, however, caused major dissatisfaction among the common people, which has repeatedly been pointed out by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari.

In his address before adjourning the Rajya Sabha sine die, Ansari once again asked the MPs to introspect if the disruptions were tarnishing the image of parliament.

“It is shameful what the MPs are doing, wasting public money and not working. We, the common people, are going on the streets against the repeated rape cases and the parliament could not even complete the debate (on the issue). They can only make hollow promises, not act,” said Delhi university student Radhika Malhotra.

The Rajya Sabha had taken up a debate on women’s safety on May 22, the first day of the second half of the budget session. Even as members expressed concern, the debate was not completed and the minister could not reply to it as disruptions continued with the BJP first protesting over the JPC report on 2G spectrum allocation and then over the alleged interference of the Prime Minister’s Office and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar in a CBI report on the allocation of coal blocks.

Towards the end of the session, the opposition also demanded Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s resignation over bribery allegations against his nephew.

“We the youth are getting hopeless now, the parliament does not function, the law and order does not function, we do not have enough colleges or schools, and nor are there enough jobs. If they think these agitations are big, they should be careful, because more would be coming up if the situation does not change,” said Rajeev, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Sharad Kumar, an engineer working in Delhi’s satellite town of Gurgaon, expressed frustration over the stalled economic business.

“Do they realise what the situation has become? There is an economic blackhole that is growing and it will swallow us up and here we have a parliament which cannot pass a bill,” he said.

With the non-functioning of the budget session, the government now has 116 bills pending for approval, PRS Legislative Research figures show.

For the budget session, the government had listed 38 bills for consideration and passing. The government also introduced 16 new bills, apart from the finance bills.

During the session, apart from the finance bills, only two bills were passed: The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill and The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill.

The Lok Sabha took only three minutes to pas the first bill, while the Rajya Sabha discussed it for almost three hours. In comparison, the Criminal Law Bill was discussed for more than five hours in the Lok Sabha and around three hours in the Rajya Sabha before being passed.

Even as financial business is the main concern for the budget session, the Lok Sabha spent only 29 hours on discussing both the general and railway budgets while the the Rajya Sabha spent around 13 hours.

This is one of the lowest ever.

In comparison, in 2012, Lok Sabha spent 55 hours on discussing general and railway budget, PRS Legislative Research data shows.

The discussion on the budget usually takes place in three parts: a general discussion, a discussion on demand for grants of some ministries and discussion on the Finance Bill. This year, only the general discussion was taken up in Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha did not even take that up.

The fate of question hour was even worse.

In Lok Sabha, the question hour was conducted for only 23 percent of the scheduled time. In comparison, it was conducted for 30 percent of the scheduled time in the Rajya Sabha.

However, no starred questions were answered orally in Rajya Sabha on 16 of its 32 sitting. In Lok Sabha no questions were answered orally on nine days.

Only 37 of the 640 starred questions were answered orally in the Lok Sabha on the floor of the House. In the Rajya Sabha, 49 were answered.

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