Democracy and Parliament are being murdered, says Derek O’Brien.
New Delhi: Irked with the way bills were being “bulldozed through Parliament”, Opposition leaders plan to meet on Tuesday to explore approaching the Rajya Sabha Chairman and the Lok Sabha Speaker over their grievances and even consider writing a letter to both on this.
“We are fast losing confidence in the way both Houses are being presided over... You are telling how the Lok Sabha sits till midnight. We want to know about the quality. A student may study for six hours and another for one hour. That is not the criteria,” a senior Rajya Sabha Opposition MP said.
He went on to add that the time for talking was over. “It is time to put our thoughts in writing. Twenty-four days of the Rajya Sabha are over. It is time the Opposition in Parliament puts its thoughts in writing on how Parliament is being murdered.”
Congress’ Rajya Sabha chief whip Bhubaneswar Kalita told this newspaper that the Opposition parties were planning to approach Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on this subject. Trinamul Congress MP and Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien said: “Democracy and Parliament are being murdered. Eleven bills were passed, none of them had gone for scrutiny. Nine more bills are announced. On Friday, the government said it intends to bring 16 bills. The Business Advisory Committee has become a toothless time allocation committee.”
“Take the examples of the first Lok Sabha sessions of 2014, 2009 and 2004. They ran for 10-12 days. Very few bills were passed. As someone said, I agree that this is not the Gujarat Assembly. This is Parliament of India,” Mr O’Brien said.
The immediate trigger for the Opposition was the government’s refusal to give enough time to them to move amendments to the Protection of Human Rights Amendment Bill. The parties said they wanted to send the bill to the select committee, and had not been given the mandatory 24 hours to move amendments, which was violative of Rule 95 of the Proceedings of Rajya Sabha.
“The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Friday and was sent to the Rajya Sabha at 5 pm that day. Since Saturday, Sunday are off, today (Monday) we should have got till 5 pm to move amendments, which was not given,” senior TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy said.
The TMC also wants a host of other bills, including the RTI Amendment Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha Monday, to be sent to select committees for more scrutiny.
Another senior leader lamented that the Rajya Sabha’s presiding officers have no problem in adjourning during Zero Hour and Question Hour in five minutes, because those are the Opposition’s time, but in the afternoon they ran the House even amidst a din.