NEW DELHI: Do not make the Rajya Sabha a "clog in the wheel" of progress, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday cautioned MPs before adjourning the proceedings of the Budget Session sine die, as the House lost nearly three- fourths of its time to disruptions and adjournments.
During the second leg of the session which commenced on January 29, had 30 sittings in all. While it sat for 44 hours, the Upper House lost over 121 hours. Of the 419 starred questions listed, only five were replied to orally by the concerned ministers in the House. The Question Hour could not be taken up for 27 days "due to pandemonium and interruptions in the House over one or the other issue", Naidu said.
The disruptions and adjournments were caused by protests over issues like special status to Andhra Pradesh, bank scams, demand for Cauvery water management board, vandalising of statues, review of the recent Supreme Court order on SC/ST Act and law and order situation in Kasganj in Uttar Pradesh. The proceedings were literally washed out in the post-recess session which started on March 5.
"I am pained to note that it turned out to be an eminently forgettable one on account of utter disregard of the mandate of this important parliamentary institution and its responsibilities and missed opportunities," Naidu said in his concluding address to the 245th session of Rajya Sabha.
He noted that there was a "total breakdown" in communication among various sections of the House that was "at the root of the prolonged stalemate that ruined the session."
"This is not good for our parliamentary democracy of which our country has come to acquire a pride of place," he said, adding "we are all losers. This includes the opposition, the ruling party, the government and most importantly, the people and the nation".
Referring to the House not transacting any substantial business during the second part of the Session, Naidu wondered if the fears of those who doubted the need for a Second Chamber during the debates in the Constituent Assembly were coming true.
Naidu recalled that during the Constituent Assembly debates on the need for a Council of States, some Members feared that it would prove to be "a clog (impediment) in the wheel of progress" involving expenses and not making much contribution.
Jawahar Lal Nehru, who headed the Union Constitution Committee for reporting on the structure and function of the future legislature of the country, had feared in 1936 that a Second Chamber will check any forward tendencies of the Lower House and will be reactionary, Naidu said.
"Are we making Nehru's worst fear come true? We should not, for the sake of our parliamentary democracy and the people," said Naidu. Again talking about the disruptions, the Chairman said: "Let us not be a party to this House becoming a 'clog in the wheel of progress'".
Instead, the members "should dispel the fears" expressed by Nehru, who despite having reservations about the utility of the Upper House, had supported its coming into being. "You need to rise to the expectations of those who strongly justified the need for this House in the Constituent Assembly," Naidu said.
Due to the disruptions, the House could not debate the important Finance Bill 2018, but passed the payment of gratuity law without debate.
The House also bade farewell to 60 retiring members while new and some re-elected members were administered oath. The Rajya Sabha also had a debate on the 'Motion of Thanks' on the President's address for about 14 hours and devoted 10 hours to discuss the Budget.