Govt seeks help for passing bills in House

February 04, 2014 - 7:59:29 am
NEW DELHI: The ruling Congress party yesterday urged the opposition to allow major bills to be passed in the last session of a parliament which is set to go down as the least productive in history.

The current parliament, which was elected in 2009, has passed a record low of 165 bills in its five-year-term, with bad-tempered outbursts and protests forcing frequent adjournments.

“The 15th Lok Sabha (Lower House) has faced disruptions like never before,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told a news conference.

“We urge the opposition to support the government in smoothly running the last session of parliament so that important bills can be passed.”

The minister said the bill for creating a separate state of Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh was “a high priority for the government”.

The bill is expected to be introduced in the session despite its rejection by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. MPs from Seemandhra as the other two regions — coastal Andhra and Rayalseema — are collectively known, including those from Congress, have opposed division of the state.

Sources said that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy may meet President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday to request him not to recommend the state reorganisation bill for introduction in parliament. Kamal Nath said parties should to make their stand clear whether they are for Telangana or against.“There should be no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’,” he said.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Monday said he will talk to opposition leaders to ensure passage of important bills, including six anti-corruption bills. 

The final session of parliament, which begins tomorrow, is due to wrap up on February 21 ahead of general elections due by May.

As many as 126 bills are pending in parliament, including 72 in the Lok Sabha once the chamber is prorogued.

Among the legislation still pending is a bill to set quotas for the number of women lawmakers and a series of anti-corruption measures.

Also due for consideration is a bill giving millions of disabled equal rights, including to education and employment.

Thousands of disabled people protested in the capital yesterday, demanding parliament pass the long-awaited legislation.

But according to Shreya Singh of the Delhi-based PRS think-tank, there is “little possibility” of any major bills getting passed in the upcoming session given “its recent history of disruptions”.

The Times of India slammed both the government and the opposition for parliament’s failure to deliver, reflecting a growing political divide in the lead-up to elections. “Legislators are elected to make laws. By not doing so, they fail in their primary duty and waste public money,” it said in an editorial yesterday.

“The government and opposition will be quick to try and blame each other, but this represents a collective failure on the part of our MPs.”

Congress is lagging badly in opinion polls ahead of the election, with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party expected to win most seats in the 552-member parliament.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj said her party will support the passage of the bills if the government ensures orderly functioning of the two houses.

The government cannot blame the opposition for disruptions as its own members have been protesting on the issue of Telangana, she said, adding the Congress-led government’s grip was not only slipping “over the country but also on its own chief ministers and MPs”.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, noting the government had 39 bills on its agenda in 12 days of business, asked it how it will ensure orderly conduct in the two houses in the wake of the conflicting views of its own members on Telangana.

JD-U leader Sharad Yadav said the government should get the financial bills passed between Feb 12 and Feb 21 as passage of other bills “looks difficult in the prevailing conditions”, while SP leader Ramgopal Yadav also said that “only financial bills should be brought” by the government.