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Disruptions in Parliament and assemblies not right: Pranab Mukherjee

PTI | Last Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 - 16:43

Kolkata: Criticising frequent disruptions in Parliament and state assemblies, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said the issue needed collective thinking on whether some of the existing rules required to be amended to ensure smooth running of Houses.
"There can be disagreements in a democracy.... The job of the opposition is to oppose, to expose but not to disrupt. As an opposition, disposition and exposition can go on. But not disruption. You express your views, but others do not get the chance," he said.

Speaking in Bengali at the valedictory session of the platinum jubilee ceremony of the West Bengal Assembly, he said that politicians have to go to people to seek vote.

"After that if we don`t do our duty, then it is not the right thing," Mukherjee said adding that dissent should be expressed with decency and within the contours and parameters of parliamentary devices.

Incidentally, the Congress and the Left parties have boycotted the three-day platinum jubilee ceremony of the West Bengal Assembly which ended today.

The President said there is a need for collective thinking by political parties and leaders of our country on how to ensure smooth running of our Parliament and legislative assemblies and whether some of the existing rules need to be amended for the purpose.

Democracy should comprise of the three `D`s - debate, dissent and decision, he said adding that now a new `D` of disruption has been added into the system.

"Discipline and decorum must always be maintained and rules, conventions and etiquette observed. Parliamentary practices, procedures and conventions are meant to provide for orderly and expeditious transaction of business of the House," he told legislators.

The cardinal principle of effective functioning of the
parliamentary system is that majority will rule and minority will oppose, expose and if possible depose, Mukherjee said.

"However, the minority has to accept the decisions of the majority while the majority has to respect the views of the minority," he said.

The President described it unfortunate that the time devoted by legislators towards legislation has been gradually declining across the country.

Illustrating this, he said the first Lok Sabha from 1952-57 had 677 sittings in which 319 bills were passed but in comparison the fourteenth Lok Sabha from 2004-09 had only 332 sittings and passed just 247 bills.

Similarly, the first West Bengal Legislative Assembly from 1952-57 sat for 326 days but the 14th assembly in 2011 was 33 days and 2012 was 41 days.

"The Presiding Officers Conferences have time and again reiterated the need for holding a minimum of 100 days of sittings every year," he said.

Mukherjee urged legislators to ensure that the content and the quality of debates are of the highest order.

"As members of different political parties, individual legislators would be guided by the policies of their respective parties. Competitive politics should not, however, result in slowing down the progress of the state or enhancing the suffering of its people," he said.

He asked legislators to forge consensus on issues of development and public welfare which transcend political barriers.

"We should also examine whether our committees can consider post-approval scrutiny of budgetary allocations made to various ministries," he said.

First Published: Friday, December 6, 2013 - 16:43
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