Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari on Friday expressed strong displeasure over “regular and continuous” disruptions during the winter session and asked members to introspect as he adjourned the House sine die.
“The prohibition in the rules about shouting slogans, displaying posters and obstructing proceedings by leaving their assigned places was consistently ignored by all sections of the House. Peace prevailed only when obituaries were read,” Ansari said while addressing the house, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present.
Ansari said both sides must “introspect on the distinction between dissent, disruption and agitation”.
The month-long winter session was a virtual washout as opposition parties and the government clashed primarily over the Centre’s decision to recall of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes. Both parties have claimed that it’s the other side that is not allowing a debate in Parliament.
The belligerent Opposition wanted Modi to speak in the House on demonetisation, a surprise move that has left millions of people lining up at banks and ATM kiosks for more than a month. For his part, the Prime Minister has accused the Opposition of not letting him speak in the House.
The confrontation overshadowed Parliament’s legislative business, including passage of key social and financial reforms bills.
The Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is in a minority, could only pass the disabilities bill on December 14 and initiate a discussion on demonetisation when the session began on November 16. The House could not take up business as both sides disrupted the proceedings.
The Lok Sabha has been able to use 15% of the allotted time, against the Rajya Sabha’s 19%. This is a sharp fall from the previous session in which the two Houses spent 101% and 96% of their time.
Ansari made the scathing comment on the disruptions by members who trooped into the well of the House, raising slogans. He also underlined that the disruptions did not allow members to seek accountability of the executive through questions and discussions on matters of public interest.
“I had fervently hoped that I would not have to repeat what I said at the conclusion of the 221st session in December 2013. My hope stands belied,” Ansari said.
The rap from the vice-president came a week after President Pranab Mukherjee criticised lawmakers for stalling proceedings in the winter session over the government’s decision to ban the two high-value banknotes.
“For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance,” Mukherjee had said.
“The majority never participates in disruptions. Only the minority comes to the well, shouts slogans, stops proceeding and creates a situation,” he said.
The repeated disruptions also frustrated BJP veteran LK Advani, who said he felt like resigning.