As Parliament celebrated the 60th year of its first sitting in independent India on Sunday, MPs, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, voiced concern over repeated disruptions in two houses and called for restoring the dignity and decorum of the institution.
“The daily routine of disruptions, adjournments and shouting in Parliament are leading many outside to question the efficacy of the institution and faith in public affairs," the PM said, winding up a day-long discussion in the Lok Sabha. Singh had earlier set the tone for introspection on Parliament's functioning when he initiated the debate in the Rajya Sabha.
But NCP chief Sharad Pawar and BJP leader Jaswant Singh said nothing had changed since then. "Members disrupted Parliament on the very second day," according to Pawar while Jaswant Singh said the resolution was now part of the archives and a “forgotten document”.
The year 2010 saw Parliament's longest shutdown since independence as the winter session was washed out following the opposition-government standoff over the demand for a joint parliamentary committee to look into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
Both the Houses witnessed a rare show of camaraderie as members thumped the desk hailing speeches by all leaders.
Lamenting that a handful of members throttle a silent majority, Pranab Mukherjee called for a mechanism to eliminate disruptions.
Observing that Parliament has come from a French word Parler, meaning "to discuss", Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi said members disrupt proceedings and go to TV studios to speak.
Vice-president Hamid Ansari regretted that there was perceptible drop in the working days of Parliament. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and SP’s Rewati Raman Singh demanded that 100 sittings a year should be made mandatory.
"We should seriously consider it through a constitutional amendment, if necessary. I think, that is necessary as a corrective step for the future," Yechury said.
The closest Parliament sat for 100 days was in 1992 with 98 sittings.