Historic washout: Least productive Parliament session ends

The winter session of Parliament ended without transacting any substantial business, going down in history as the only session virtually washed out.

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2010, 23:55 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The winter session of Parliament
on Monday ended without transacting any substantial business,
going down in Parliamentary history as the only session
virtually washed out due to standoff between the government
and Opposition over 2G spectrum scam.

Parliament could function barely for a few hours during
the 23 sittings which began on November 9, as the united
Opposition forced adjournments almost everyday, within
minutes of assembling.

The logjam led to a loss of Rs.7.8 crore a day to the national exchequer, which translates into Rs.1.3 crore per hour as each sitting is of six hours each day. That means nearly Rs.172 crore (Rs.1.72 billion) of the Indian tax payer`s money went down the drain.

Opposition members trooping into the well and shouting
slogans demanding JPC probe into the 2G spectrum allocation
became a daily routine in both Houses.

Normalcy was seen in the Lok Sabha only on the first day
of the session when the Rajya Sabha was adjourned because of
death of a sitting member.

Despite a number of meetings between the government and
Opposition, the impasse continued as the BJP-led NDA, the Left
parties, AIADMK, SP, TDP and BJD persisted with their demand
for a JPC into the 2G spectrum scam.

The Opposition got a shot in the arm after the CAG report,
tabled in Parliament on November 16, said the spectrum
allocation in 2008 had caused a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76
lakh crore to the exchequer.

The Opposition was not satisfied even though Telecom
Minister A Raja quit.

The government, on the other hand, continuously rejected
the demand for JPC maintaining that the Public Accounts
Committee was adequately equipped to probe the irregularities.

This session earned the dubious distinction of being
virtually washed out, although Parliament had witnessed logjam
for 17 days over Tehelka scam in 2001 and disruptions for 45
days over Bofors scandal in 1987.

Before adjourning the Upper House sine die, Rajya Sabha
Chairman Hamid Ansari conveyed his displeasure stating the
221st session displayed "distinct" features and asked members
to introspect.

"No debates or discussions on matters of public interest
took place; no special mentions were made or laid on the
table; no zero hour interventions were sought; no questions
were answered orally and no supplementary questions were
raised," he said.

Ansari said all sections of the House would "perhaps
introspect on the record of this session to seek the
distinction between dissent, remonstration, agitation and
disruption."

When asked for her reaction on the ongoing logjam, Speaker
Meira Kumar said outside the House, "I am anguished" at the
situation.

Amid the pandemonium, the government managed to get its
financial bills involving supplementary demands for about Rs
46,000 crore passed.

But it was clear at the end of it all that the government and the opposition were headed for a showdown, with neither side willing to relent on a deeply divisive issue.

The session had scheduled 138 hours of business in 23 sittings. But parliament sat for only 7.3 hours, which means only a pathetic 5.5 percent of the allotted time was utilised, said the PRS Legislative Research.

"If we compare all sessions that sat for more than five working days along this metric, the current session has recorded the worst performance," said PRS in its analysis.

-Agencies inputs