Parliament standoff continues for 8th day

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 24 2010, 06:38am hrs
Forget about the MPs shouting their lungs out to force the presiding officers to adjourn the two Houses of Parliament. All that is passe!

It takes our new-age MPs to simply storm the well and the Question Hour goes for a six in a couple of minutes flat, day after day. Unless, of course, there are some mandatory obituary references, which means upto some five minutes more.

The first adjournment over, when they meet again at 12 noon, it takes one minute to a maximum of eight minutes (as the current session shows) for the MPs to call it a day. That too because some obligatory duties warrant that they mix some business with din. Therefore, the exercise of introduction of Bills and tabling of statements and reports goes simultaneously. The formality over, it is time to disperse for the day.

It has been a fortnight since the Winter Session of Parliament got underway and the Rajya Sabha has not conducted normal business even for a day. The Lok Sabha has been barely a shade better, having had a normal sitting on the first day, November 9, obviously because Opposition parties had not worked out a common strategy by then to block proceedings. The Rajya Sabha had to cancel the sitting as a mark of respect to sitting member Arjun Sen Gupta, who had recently died. There have been a total of nine working days for the MPs so far, leaving out the weekends and two religious holidays.

The sole Bill passed by the Lok Sabha all this while is the Orissa (alteration of name) Bill after a full-fledged discussion on November 9. The next day, after the Opposition parties had resolved to press for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe in to the 2-G Specturm allocation, the Lok Sabha sat (literally speaking, most members were standing) for a total of eight minutes four minutes during question hour and four minutes after 12 noon. The record touched a new low three minutes in question hour and only one minute after 12 noon on November 11.

Thereafter came three consecutive holidays. And, fresh after the break, on November 15, Lok Sabha members sat for 14 minutes, evenly divided between two adjournments. Amidst din, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee presented statements on the demands for grants and demands for excess grants. This was followed by the introduction of two Bills The Enemy Property (Validation) Second Bill (by home minister P Chidambaram) and the Multi-State Co-operative Act (Amendment) Bill (by MoS for agriculture KV Thomas). The hall-marks of the remaining days have been statements tabled by two ministers by sports minister M S Gill on the Commonwealth Games on November 16 and by external affairs minister on the visit of Barack Obama on November 19.

Ironically, the Opposition itself has been a victim of its protest action. For instance, CPI floor leader Gurudas Dasgupta has been on the wait since November 10 to move his calling attention motion on the pitiable condition of private school teachers in the country. The same is true of his CPI(M) counterpart Basudeb Acharia, whose calling attention motion on the situation arising out of lacklusture progress in the bank linkage programme of self-groups has been on hold since November 11. SP member Shailendra Kumars calling attention motion on the need to fix the minimum support price of sugarcane at Rs 325 per quintal awaits being taken up while his party colleagues are trying to match NDA people in protest action.

An incomplete discussion on Maoist activities, initiated by Acharya on December 17 last year, is listed for resumption practically daily. Mukherjee has to get the parliamentary nod for the Supplementary demands for grants and excess grants.

The Upper House has seen the introduction of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendmment Bill besides the routine tabling of papers. The Elders have sat for three minutes to eight minutes on any given day.