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V-P Venkaiah Naidu looks to cut down on Rajya Sabha din

Thirty days in, the new Vice President of India is looking to revamp the Upper House proceedings to deal with the passage of contentious bills in the absence of a political consensus, among other aspects.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2017 23:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Venkaiah Naidu,Rajya Sabha,Vice president
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.(PTI Photo)

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha, is holding consultations over his predecessor Hamid Ansari’s stand against the passage of bills in a din, a move that might brighten the prospects of contentious bills that are often held up in the absence of political consensus.

Opposition parties have stalled many bills in the Upper House where the ruling NDA is in a minority. Hamstrung by the lack of numbers required to get parliamentary approval of its proposed legislation, the NDA government often had to resort to money-bill-route in the past, triggering strong objections from opposition parties. The Upper House does not have a decisive say in money bills. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has even gone to the Supreme Court, challenging the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision to certify the bill on Aadhaar as a money bill. With barely 21 months left in its current tenure, the government is keen on pushing its reforms agenda, especially in the labour sector, to give a fillip to the economy.

Sources said that Naidu was looking at precedents, including the period between 2004 and 2014 when the UPA government was in power, to see if Parliament passed bills amid disruptions by opposition lawmakers in the past. During the winter session in 2008, the Lok Sabha had passed many bills when the House was in disorder.

In the mean time though, the vice-president is meeting opposition leaders to try to build political consensus to ensure smooth functioning of the Rajya Sabha. The government has often argued for voting on contentious bills in the House, contending that many smaller parties favoured them but disruptions by a few didn’t allow them to express their support.

Naidu is also learnt to be examining the issue of expunction of unparliamentary words. There have been questions about its effectiveness, given that on many occasions they are all over TV channels and social media for hours before the Chair expunges them.

Even as Naidu, who completed one month in office last Monday, has been holding extensive meetings to familiarize himself with his new responsibility, he has decided to lend his weight behind schemes and programmes such as “Swachh Bharat” and “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”. He will take part in the government’s fortnight long programme, starting from September 15, to promote cleanliness.

The V-P is also examining the functioning of the Rajya Sabha TV, which incurs huge expenditures—of around Rs 75-80 crore annually. He is learnt to be reviewing the RS TV’s contents and would like to have more programmes about states. He is also cleaning up the RS secretariat and is said to have ordered the removal of officials who got extension in violation of rules and procedures.

First Published: Sep 13, 2017 23:59 IST