The Winter Session of Parliament ended Tuesday with the economic reform agenda of the government, including the bills dealing with an enhancement of cap on FDI in insurance sector, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and a fresh auction of coal blocks hitting a roadblock. The session had begun on November 24.
The government has to either opt for the ordinance route to push them through or try its luck again during the next session. When asked if the government would now issue an ordinance, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, “That is a suggestion for action… Let us see.” Regarding the GST bill, he said, “We will take it up in the next session.”
Attacking the Opposition for blocking the important bills in Rajya Sabha, Naidu told reporters that “it had let the country down by stalling the development agenda of the government”. He said the Opposition had held national interest “captive” by its short-sighted political considerations.
The working of the two Houses was in stark contrast to each other. Lok Sabha passed as many as 18 bills in 22 sittings spanning over a month. The House lost just some three hours and 26 minutes due to disturbances and adjournments. Rajya Sabha passed 12 bills, but lost 51 hours and 57 minutes due to disruptions over the renaming of the Hyderabad airport, a controversial speech by a minister, black money and conversions. The productivity of Lok Sabha was 105.71 per cent while that of Rajya Sabha was 67.18 per cent.
Notwithstanding the differences between them, the two sides got together to adopt unanimous resolutions condemning the terror attack on a Peshawar school and slamming the bail granted to the Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi by a Pakistani court. The same unity was on display when it came to passing a bill aimed at preventing sealing of houses of people in unauthorised colonies.
As Speaker Sumitra Mahajan got up to read her valedictory address soon after paper-laying in the afternoon, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge made an unsuccessful attempt to seek a response to the conversion issue from Prime Minister Narendra, who was present in the House. “I am not allowing even the Prime Minister to speak,” she said. Citing the approaching New Year, she told Kharge, “You may speak if you want to say something good for the New Year”. Kharge responded by saying, “I do say something good”. He wanted the Prime Minister to make a statement. Some Congress members were heard saying, “PM apni mann ki baat sadan ko bolein (Let the PM speak his heart out in the House)”. “When I have said No, it is No)”, the Speaker ruled and started reading her address.
Rajya Sabha went through another round of disruptions before passing a bill to protect the interests of the inhabitants of unautorised colonies in the Capital. Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House sine die once the bill was passed.