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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Some embarrassing moments meant it wasn’t a smooth sail

Kumar Uttam , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 16, 2014
First Published: 00:27 IST(16/8/2014) | Last Updated: 00:30 IST(16/8/2014)

The government may have claimed credit for the passage of long-pending judicial appointments commission bill, but the just-concluded session of Parliament was not without its share of embarrassment for the government.

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The draft of a bill which proposed to do away with collegium system of appointment of judges left the government red-faced.

The “statements of objects and reasons” of the bill and related constitution amendment bill got printed on the other and vice-versa.

It was some last-ditch efforts from senior BJP ministers that saved the day for the judicial commission bill on August 11 but not before the government issued a corrigendum on the printing errors and spelling mistakes.

That very day, ally Shiv Sena’s MPs also joined Opposition members to derail the passing of the railways (amendment) bill. Embarrassed, the government decided to send it to the standing committee.

It was a session that also witnessed poor floor management by the treasury benches, ministers fumbling in their answers, allies stalling bills, ministers’ absence during debate leading to adjournment, several BJP MPs skipping passage of the budget and many more such a gaffe. 

Whether to have a debate or not on Israel’s aggression in Gaza saw ministers — Prakash Javadekar and Sushma Swaraj - speaking in different voices.

Javadekar, the junior minister of parliamentary affairs, often struggled in the Rajya Sabha to take on the onslaught of a combined opposition. His framing of sentences even left treasury benches members in splits. 

At least half a dozen ministers of state were in the Opposition’s line of fire for not coming up with proper answers during question hour in the Lok Sabha.

The Prime Minister, a government source told HT, was angry when about two dozen MPs skipped the voting on the budget after claiming their allowance for the day. They were served show cause notice and had to apologise.

“Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu has repeatedly requested them to remain present in the house, but it made little difference,” a senior minister told HT.

During a debate on the UPSC row in the Rajya Sabha on August 6, no Cabinet minister was present, prompting opposition MPs like Jairam Ramesh to seek adjournment of the House.

Treasury benches members were seen running from pillar to post to bring a Cabinet minister. Water resources minister Uma Bharti made an entry just in time.

However, the government was not that fortunate in the Lok Sabha when Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had to adjourn the sitting for half an hour when Opposition cried foul over the absence of the home minister, Rajnath Singh, and his junior during a debate on communal violence in the country.

On another occasion, Uma Bharti was seen pulling up her officers for not informing her about the timing of paper laying, which led to some confusion.


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