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Houses adjourned

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were on Friday adjourned sine die, with a continued standoff between BJP-led NDA government and Opposition / non-NDA parties over the latter’s unrelenting protests on their respective issues causing a comprehensive washout of the Budget Session that involved a waste of altogether about 250 working hours.

The second half of the Budget Session beginning 5 March had 22 sittings, but they were all virtually washed out. The Budget Session had got underway on 29 January, with its first phase continuing till 9 February. The usual uproarious scenes with agitating members waving placards, shouting slogans in the Well of the two Houses brought the second phase of the Session to a tumultuous end today.

The notices of no-confidence motion moved by a number of Opposition and non-NDA parties ~ including the TDP, YSRCP, Congress and Left ~ against the Narendra Modi government were not taken up in the Lok Sabha by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan for over 12 straight days amid din.

Only 17 of the 580 starred questions were orally answered in the Lok Sabha during the total 29 sittings of the entire Session while merely 5 of 19 such questions were replied to by Ministers in the Rajya Sabha.

The continued disruptions and adjournments were caused by various parties’ protests against the Modi government over a range of issues including Rs 13,000 crore PNB fraud, Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, Cauvery Water Management Board, SC/ST Act dilutions, CBSE paper leaks, and vandalising of statues of backward communities’ icons.

The second phase of the Session witnessed members storming the Well soon after each House assembled every morning, forcing their presiding officers to adjourn them for the day within minutes or following an adjournment daily. The Lok Sabha witnessed demands for grants of all ministries being guillotined and the passage of the crucial Finance Bill without discussion, thereby marking the passing of the entire Budget of the Indian government within 30 minutes amid din and ruckus.

Summing up the proceedings before adjourning the Lok Sabha sine die, the Speaker said the House functioned for altogether 34 hours and 5 minutes only during the 29 sittings.

A total of 127 hours and 45 minutes were affected by “interruptions and forced adjournments” in the Lower House. Of the few Bills that could be passed amid din in Parliament were the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017. “This House is a sacred platform for members to raise issues related to public interest and public welfare,” Mahajan said, even as she told them to keep in mind the larger interests of the country.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked the protesting MPs not to make the Upper House a “clog in the wheel” of the nation’s progress.

“I am pained to note that it (Session) turned out to be an eminently forgettable one on account of utter disregard of the mandate of this important parliamentary institution and its responsibilities and missed opportunities,” Naidu reportedly said, with the Upper House losing a total of over 121 working hours during the Session.

Due to the sustained cycle of disruptions, the Upper House could not even debate the Finance Bill 2018.