Parliament session may be curtailed
With only three working days remaining in the monsoon session of Parliament, the government has discussed a plan with Opposition leaders to curtail the session, which has witnessed a persistent stalemate of proceedings, people familiar with the development said on Friday.
Government functionaries have told the Opposition leaders that the proposal is to adjourn the ongoing session on August 8 or 10. A final decision is yet to be taken, said a senior functionary.
The monsoon session, which started on July 18, was scheduled to continue till August 12. However, with two holidays — Muharram and Raksha Bandhan — falling next week and amid disruptions of proceedings in the House every day by an unrelenting Opposition, the government is considering an early end to the session.
Two opposition leaders, familiar with the development, said that the government has proposed to skip the Question Hour and Zero Hour in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, August 8, and instead dedicate the entire first half proceedings to extend farewell to Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
“The second half of Rajya Sabha proceedings would be used to push a couple of bills,” said a leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The other proposal, according to a non-Congress Opposition leader, is to end the session on August 10, the last day of Naidu’s term as Vice President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
A third leader said there is also a possibility that the Lok Sabha may end on August 8 while the Upper House will continue till August 10.
BJP leaders aware of the details said the government has tried to “restore normalcy” in the House and urged the opposition members to allow proceedings. “The government reached out to the Opposition to raise the issues that they wanted to discuss in the House, but the opposition was intent on disruption and disturbance,” said a BJP leader, requesting anonymity.
The opposition wanted to speak on price rise and inflation and despite the government agreeing to a discussion, they wasted nearly two weeks disturbing the House, the leader alleged. “In the Rajya Sabha, the chairperson had agreed to a discussion on the issue. All he said was that the discussion could not be held under Rule 267. The finance minister was unwell and the government sought time for her to be able to return to the House so that she could reply. Yet, all we saw from the Opposition side was placards and sloganeering,” the BJP leader claimed.
Rajya Sabha’s Rule 267 provides for raising urgent issues of public importance by suspending the normal operation of Rules.
For the monsoon session, the government had prepared a list of 24 bills for passage, of which 14 were pending from the previous sessions. “This was a short session of 17-18 sittings and about 60-62 hours were set aside for government business and the rest was to be allotted for Zero Hour, Question Hour and private members’ bills, but the first two weeks were practically a washout,” the BJP leader said. “It was a huge loss to the members even from other parties who could not raise the issues that they had been preparing to bring to the notice of the House.”