Closed for no work

This abbreviated winter session has marked one of the lowest points of the 15th Lok Sabha.

Right after it passed the Lokpal Bill, Parliament folded up, and the winter session was adjourned two days ahead of schedule. This despite the opposition's stated desire to extend the unusually brief session, echoed by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi when he asked for more time to pass other anti-corruption bills championed by the UPA. Why was it not possible for our MPs to see through even a 12-day session, packed with important legislation? The government had planned to introduce seven new bills, two of which were also listed for consideration and passing. Of these, only three were introduced, and none passed. In fact, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was the only achievement of the session, out of 29 bills listed for consideration and passing in both Houses.

This session was perceived as the UPA's last productive session, given that the next one will be overshadowed by an impending election. But instead of using this session to move on important bills that have mouldered too long, from the women's reservation bill to the direct taxes code, both government and opposition parties have failed in their duties. There was no attempt to make up for lost time or sit beyond scheduled hours. This winter session, in fact, has almost matched the inglorious record set by the winter session of 2010, with Lok Sabha working for a total of four hours and 31 minutes, a mere 6 per cent of the scheduled time, and Rajya Sabha for 11 hours and 24 minutes, 19 per cent of the scheduled time. Ever since the 2G scam first engulfed the government, session after session has been lost to obstruction and stonewalling. The standstill ceased to be about specific issues or to implicate one or two parties alone. It threatened the very assumptions of deliberative democracy.

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