After a series of Parliament sessions ending in total washouts, parliamentarians — both from the Centre and the Opposition — are gearing up for an equally tumultuous Monsoon Session of Parliament which will start on 18 July. Even as stalemate in Parliament proceedings has become a regular affair, the Opposition parties are planning to meet on Monday to formulate a joint strategy to corner the government on various issues during the Monsoon Session. Topmost on the agenda will be to finalise a joint candidate for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman's post which fell vacant after the end of the term of P J Kurien from the Congress on 1 July.
There have been indications that the government may not hold the election in the Monsoon Session while the ruling BJP is yet to make its stance clear. The Constitution does not specify a time frame for the election and there have been precedents of a new Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman being chosen a few months after the incumbent retired.
The Opposition appears to have an edge in an election but much would depend on the stance of parties such as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, AIADMK, the Biju Janata Dal and the YSR Congress.
"Opposition leaders will meet today (Monday) to decide on issues which will be taken up in the Monsoon Session. They will plan a strategy to seek answers from the government on issues related to increasing bank frauds, women safety and threats to national security," deputy leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma told PTI.
"(Narendra) Modi made some irresponsible statements on former prime minister Manmohan Singh during the Gujarat elections, too. When asked about it in Parliament, he had nothing to say. He still has time to apologise and save the dignity of the PMO," Sharma was quoted as saying by The Hindu Business Line. Parliament Affairs Ministry and the Speaker's office are also holding separate meetings of all parties on Tuesday.
Sources told PTI that the Congress may agree to a candidate from other opposition parties for the post of the deputy chairman. Among the names doing the rounds for the post include Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy.
The sources also indicated that the post may go to the NCP. The names of the candidates have not been formally discussed and it will be the first time that the issue will be taken up during the meeting on Monday.
The opposition candidate is likely to be decided by consensus after discussions among leaders from various parties, they said. The sources, however, said that the ruling NDA is keen on fielding its candidate and is seeking the support of some parties like the BJD and the AIADMK.
The name of Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral is doing the rounds for the post from the ruling coalition. During Monday’s meeting, the opposition parties are expected to discuss a strategy to corner the government on various issues including lynching, atrocities on Dalits, farmer’s grievances and security of women.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan wrote to MPs where she noted that the tenure of the 16th Lok Sabha has entered into its final year and only three sessions were left and asked if parties can justify their conduct by advancing the argument of improper conduct and interruption of the business of the House by other parties in the past.
Her remarks come in the wake of the Budget Session of Parliament, which ended in April, being least productive since 2000 with both houses seeing repeated disruptions. "If we accept this argument, then the cycle of interruptions will continue endlessly and such tendency will never be checked," she said.
Centre calls on Opposition
Just the way they did it ahead of the last Budget Session, and before that during the Winter Session, the BJP-led Centre has again "reached out" to senior Opposition leaders asking for their cooperation for the "smooth functioning" of Parliament. Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel met Manmohan Singh to seek his party's cooperation for the upcoming session. Goel also confirmed he will meet Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Reports have said that Centre has decided to meet Opposition leaders in its "bid to transact more business during the Monsoon Session."
Let's see how the meeting between the Centre and the Opposition ahead of the last Budget Session help "transact more business."
Parliament washout has become a norm: Take Budget Session for instance
The last few sessions of Parliament have all ended in total washouts. The Budget Session of 2018 was wiped out with little work done. According to PRS Legislative Research, the Budget Session was the least productive in Parliament in the past 18 years, or since 2000.
The Lok Sabha functioned for just 4.5 hours since it began on January 1 with the second leg of the Budget Session which commenced March 5 being a complete washout. The Rajya Sabha transacted slightly longer business in 9.26 hours. In all 212.7 hours were lost in the Budget Session with Lok Sabha’s contribution being 109.48 hours.
Constant bickering and pointless blame-game hampered and disturbed many useful working hours of the Parliament.
Barring the key Finance Bill, Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 ('Amendment Bill') and Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017, no legislative business was taken up in Lok Sabha in the second part of Budget Session. In terms of legislative business, 1 percent of the productive time in Lok Sabha was spent on legislative business; 6 percent in Rajya Sabha.
Speaking to The Indian Express after conclusion of the Budget Session, a senior Opposition leader had said, "There could be more of this in Monsoon Session if the government does not reach out. We also told ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi: if the issues of special status for Andhra Pradesh and Cauvery management board are left hanging, how could the Monsoon Session be any different?"
Monsoon Session begins 18 July
This session, which will have 18 working days, will conclude on 10 August. There are 68 bills pending in the Lok Sabha and 40 in the Rajya Sabha. Triple talaq is one of the top legislative items of the government. The previous Budget Session was a near washout with less than 10 percent productivity in both Houses.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 16, 2018 11:20 AM