In a refreshing change from the business as usual attitude of most politicians and setting high standards for people in public, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda impressed many on Twitter and political circles when he announced that he would pay back part of his salary proportional to the time wasted and lost in the recently-concluded Winter Session of Parliament. Panda is a popular MP elected to the Lok Sabha from the Kendrapara constituency in Odisha.
His tweet was re-tweeted over 2,100 times, inviting a lot of praise on the micro-blogging platform. The recently concluded Winter Session was a near-washout owing to the demonetisation debate, dominating most of the time and attention in both houses of Parliament where blame games were played between the ruling NDA and a ‘United Opposition’ led by Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Mayawati’s BSP, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC, and others. Though debates on the issue were initiated in both the Houses, they never reached a logical conclusion with frequent disruptions and exchange of allegations.
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Apart from the passing of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill unanimously in both the Houses, no major business transaction could be made. The disruptions continued despite President Pranab Mukherjee voicing his disappointment over Parliamentary disruptions. Rajya Sabha chairman Mohammad Hamid Ansari stated that all sections of the House should introspect on the distinction between dissent, disruption and agitation.
While Lok Sabha worked for just 19 hours losing 92, the Rajya Sabha fared slightly better working 22 hours and losing more than 86. Figures released by the Lok Sabha secretariat showed this was the lowest functioning hours during the term of the current Lok Sabha, while data from PRS Legislative Research shows that productivity of the Houses hit a new low in terms of percentage.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told The Indian Express, “Rajya Sabha worked only for 21% of the time it was scheduled to. In the case of Lok Sabha, the working time was even lower, just 17%.”