The Winter Session of Parliament came to a close Wednesday,two days ahead of schedule,after the passage of the long awaited Lokpal Bill towards the fag-end. During the session,which got underway on December 5,Lok Sabha was functional only Wednesday,while Rajya Sabha transacted business on two days Tuesday and Wednesday.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh disagreed with a suggestion that his government was escaping by wrapping up the session early,Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath indicated that the two Houses could be reconvened any time at a short notice. We have adjourned the session sine die,we have not prorogued the session and it can be brought at a short notice, he told the media.
Several factors weighed with the government for keeping the option of re-convening Parliament at a relatively short notice. The foremost among them was the line taken by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi while speaking on the Lokpal Bill in the House. He suggested that the session be extended to pass six more Bills which were part of the comprehensive anti-corruption framework. Rahul,mindful of the Congress baggage of scams,was keen on projecting a cleaner image of the party during the next general elections by enacting all possible anti-graft legislations. Two,a parliamentary nod was needed for the creation of Telangana state. Three,a vote-on-account had to be passed prior to the elections to avoid calling a full-fledged budget session.
Nath seemed to speak with Rahuls agenda at the back of his mind when he said,After talking to all parties,we will take a decision on this (resumption of the session) so that we can process the strengthening of all anti-corruption efforts to which the government is committed.
He said other legislations like the Whistleblowers Bill and Delivery of Services Bill which were in the same basket that gave strength to the Lokpal Bill also needed being passed.
Congress spokesman Raj Babbar also maintained that Rahul has said that corruption cannot be fought by Lokpal alone and there is a need for a comprehensive anti-corruption code,whose foundation was laid by the RTI Act.