Constant disruption in Parliament for 19 years is a challenge
New Delhi: On Tuesday, both the Houses of Parliament were adjourned without any business, continuing the trend seen since the second half of the budget session on March 13. Till Tuesday evening, the Lok Sabha has functioned for 54% of its allotted time and the Rajya Sabha for 38% in this half of the session. With both sides taking a hard line — the Congress and the opposition want a joint parliamentary committee to probe allegations of fraud and stock manipulation against the Adani group, considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi; The Bharatiya Janata Party wants Rahul Gandhi to apologize for his comments in London about Indian democracy being in danger – someone will need to go the extra mile to break the impasse.
In the past 19 years, since the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government assumed power in 2004, Parliament has faced regular disruptions and protests, including two sessions in which the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha spent their allotted time. 2% and 6% worked. respectively.
Nevertheless, the current session has seen a rare protest from the ruling party demanding an apology from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his alleged anti-India remarks on foreign soil. The Congress-led opposition’s demand for a JPC comes 13 years after the UPA faced a more aggressive demand from the Bharatiya Janata Party for a JPC in the 2G case, which involved unfair allocation of spectrum to telcos.
According to data available with PRS Legislative Research, in the winter session of 2010, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha could work for 6% and 2% of their scheduled time, respectively, due to frequent protests. The 2011 budget session began amid continuing protests and on 22 February Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced his government’s decision to set up the JPC.
Two years later, the Manmohan Singh government again faced a disruptive opposition in the winter session. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha could function as the BJP-led opposition erupted in protest against the controversial JPC report (in the 2G case) giving a clean chit to the PM and the demand for a separate state for Telangana. 15% and 25% of their time respectively as per PRS.
In that session, the Lok Sabha passed the Demands for Grants (General) and the Supplementary Demands for Railways without any discussion.
While the first session of the Manmohan Singh government (monsoon in 2004) was partially washed out with 33% and 17% performance in the lower house and the upper house, the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government faced major disruption in parliament. As the 2015 monsoon session approached, the Congress and other parties protested the Vyapam scam (fraud in admissions to educational institutions and appointments to government jobs) in Madhya Pradesh and controversial cricket administrator Lalit Modi’s links with senior BJP leaders. According to the PRS, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha worked for 46% and 9% of their time in that session.
In 2018, the Rafale jet fighter deal was at the center of a disruption in Parliament, with the Congress questioning how the deal was closed. According to the PRS, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha worked for 15% and 18% of their time in that session.
Bipartisan protests washed out proceedings in both houses last week. With time running out and little progress in legislative business, the government tabled the Demands for Grants in both Houses, and the Appropriation Bill and the Budget for Jammu and Kashmir in the Lok Sabha. But no business could be discussed. Opposition leaders say they fear that the Demands for Grants and the Finance Bill may pass without any debate. The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the supplementary demands for grants (Rs 1.48 lakh crore) for 2022-23 and the budget for Jammu and Kashmir without any debate.
All India Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said, ‘Trinamool and many other parties want discussion and debate. We want to raise important issues. But both the parties, BJP and Congress, disrupt the House and do not allow parties like us to speak on important issues.