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Constant disruptions in Parliament have been a challenge for 19 years

By, New Delhi
Mar 22, 2023 03:53 AM IST

In 2018, the Rafale jet fighter deal was at the heart of disruptions in Parliament, with the Congress raising questions over how the deal was closed.

On Tuesday, both houses of Parliament were adjourned without any business being transacted, continuing the trend seen since the second half of the budget session began on March 13. Till Tuesday evening, the Lok Sabha has functioned for 54% of its alloted time and the Rajya Sabha, for 38%, in this half of the session. With both sides taking a hard position -- the Congress and the opposition want a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate allegations of fraud and stock manipulation against the Adani Group, seen to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi; the Bharatiya Janata Party wants Rahul Gandhi to apologize for his comments in London about Indian democracy being under threat -- breaking the impasse will require someone to go an extra mile.

Opposition MPs raise slogans in the well of Lok Sabha demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Adani Group issue during the second phase of the budget session of the Parliament, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI)

Indian Parliament is no stranger to disruptions.

In the past 19 years, since the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government assumed power in 2004, Parliament has regularly faced disruptions and protests including two sessions in which the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha worked for 2% and 6% of their allotted time respectively.

Also read: Parliament could do with less animosity

Still, the ongoing session has seen a rare protest from the treasury benches demanding Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s apology for his alleged anti-India remarks on foreign soil. The Congress-led Opposition’s noisy demand for a JPC comes 13 years after the UPA faced a more aggressive demand from the Bharatiya Janata Party for a JPC in the 2G case, which involved the improper allocation of spectrum to telcos.

In the winter session of 2010, marred by continuous protests, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha could work for 6% and 2% of its scheduled time, according to data available with PRS Legislative Research. The budget session of 2011 started off amid continuing protests and on February 22, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced his government’s decision to set up a JPC.

Two years later, the Manmohan Singh government again faced a disruptive Opposition, again in the winter session. As the BJP-led Opposition erupted in protest against the controversial JPC report (in the 2G case) giving a clean chit to the PM and as the demand for a separate state of Telangana grew louder, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha could function for 15% and 25% of their time respectively, according to PRS.

In that session, the Lok Sabha passed the Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) and that of Railways without any discussion.

While the first session of the Manmohan Singh government (monsoon in 2004) was partially washed out with the Lower House and the Upper House clocking 33% and 17% performance, the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government faced major disruption in Parliament in the monsoon session in 2015 as Congress and other parties protested against the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh (involving fraud in admission to educational institutions and appointments to government jobs) and over controversial cricket administrator Lalit Modi’s links to senior BJP leaders. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha worked for 46% and 9% of their time in that session according to PRS.

In 2018, the Rafale jet fighter deal was at the heart of disruptions in Parliament, with the Congress raising questions over how the deal was closed. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha worked for 15% and 18% of their time in that session, according to PRS.

Also read: Over 1,500 people died due to elephant attacks since 2019: Govt tells Parliament

Protests from both sides washed out the proceedings in both House last week. With the time running out and little progress in legislative business, the government listed the discussion on demand for grants in both Houses, and the appropriation bill and the budget of J&K in the Lok Sabha. But no business could be discussed. Opposition leaders say they fear that the demand for grants and the finance bill might be passed without any debate. The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the supplementary demand for grants for 2022-23 ( 1.48 lakh crore), and the budget for J&K without any debate.

All India Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’ Brien said, “Trinamool and many other parties want discussion and debate. We want to raise important issues. But the two parties, the BJP and the Congress, disrupt the House and don’t allow parties like us to speak on vital issues.”

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