House business takes a hit, 36 bills passed in 2011
On Tuesday Parliament opens again for the second half of the budget session as a controversy rages over the fate of big-ticket reforms and government vehemently denies a policy paralysis in New Delhi. Prasad Nichenametla reports. Pranab pushes for 3 key reforms | Caught in logjamdelhi Updated: Apr 23, 2012 09:39 IST
On Tuesday Parliament opens again for the second half of the budget session as a controversy rages over the fate of big-ticket reforms and government vehemently denies a policy paralysis in New Delhi.
Whatever the view, coalition compulsions, unpredictable allies and a string of corruption scandals have taken a toll on UPA 2 and the House business.
In 2011, Parliament passed only 36 bills, one of the lowest since 1952. Only on three occasions - in 1979 (32), 1990 (30) and 1997 (35) - the figure has been lower. Thirty-six bills were passed in 1996, an election year.
The year 1976 saw Parliament give its nod to 118 bills, the highest so far.
Last year was a turbulent one for UPA 2. The 2G scandal, Commonwealth Games scams and Anna Hazare's agitation for lokpal hit the government hard.
The Lok Sabha lost 37% of its time and the Rajya Sabha 38% to adjournments - brought about by interruptions and disorderly scenes, says the annual report of the ministry of parliamentary affairs.By the end of 2011, 47 bills were pending in the Lok Sabha and 49 in the Upper House.
Adjournments forced due to disruptions do not even allow a bill to be discussed these days, a Parliament official observed.
"There has never been this kind of stalling of the proceedings," human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said.
"The magnitude of the opposition saw a whole session (2010 winter session) getting wiped out. Anyway, we see it as a temporary phase and hope this session will be smooth and constructive," Sibal said.
The government failed to build consensus which led to stalling of bills, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said.
"After the standing committees submitted their reports, how many bills have come for passage?" he asked.
Though it can scrape through in the Lok Sabha, the UPA is 10 short of the majority mark in the Rajya Sabha, making the going tough.
To add to its trouble is the mercurial and unpredictable ally Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief.
Trinamool, which has 19 members in the Lok Sabha, is the biggest UPA constituent after the Congress.
The general and railway budgets and motion of thanks on President's speech were taken up in the first half of the budget session during which the Lok Sabha passed the judicial accountability bill.
The government is expected to move some key bills now and is understood to be garnering the support of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.