‘Parliament’s supremacy must be preserved’
New Delhi: Both the houses of Parliament - the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha – on Sunday marked 60 years of its existence, with leaders cutting across party lines pressing for sincere introspection to restore the dignity of the august house.
The leaders asserted that supremacy of the Parliament must be preserved, holding that laws are made by it.
They took pride in the fact that India has managed to hold on to democracy and is a shining example in the world despite many pressing problems.
Setting the tone for introspection, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Rajya Sabha, "The daily routine of disruptions, adjournments and shouting in the House are leading many outside to question the efficacy of this institution and its place in public affairs."
Appealing to members to "write a new chapter and restore to it the sense of dignity and decorum" of Parliament, he said every MP should lead by example to maintain the prestige of this institution.
"We need to resolve that the Rules of Procedure and Conduct that we have collectively evolved would be honoured in letter and spirit," he said.
While asking the country to reject those who mock the institutions of democracy, he admitted that many people often feel frustrated by the disruption of Parliament and "in our own way, each one of us shares the blame for this state of affairs."
"It is the vitality and vibrancy of our democracy that keeps the nation united and moving on the path of progress," he said.
Addressing a function in the historic Central Hall of Parliament, President Pratibha Patil said Indian democracy "cannot be allowed to falter" at a time when democracies of the world are operating in the complex situations including fractured mandates and explosion of the media.
"The big challenge is for the democracy to proceed towards being a vibrant but healthy democracy. It is therefore necessary to walk ahead carefully, with determination," she said.
Vice President Hamid Ansari regretted that there was a perceptible drop in the working days of Parliament.
"Deliberation is less frequent; legislation is at times hasty...An impression is afoot in some quarters that diligent parliamentary work is less rewarding in political terms," he said.
Noting that new imperatives propelled them, Ansari said, "We do need to respond meaningfully to awakened expectation of a new generation in a changing world."
Speaker Meira Kumar reminded the lawmakers that they were in Parliament to protect interests of people and there was no scope of lapse in discharge of the duties.
Finance Minister and Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee echoed concerns over disruption in the Lower House when he lamented that a handful of members throttle "silent majority". Mukherjee called for a mechanism that would eliminate disruptions.
"On many occasions, this House has been tumultuous, tempers ran high, but disruption was the least this House has adopted. Because when we disrupt the House then it serves no purpose. We cannot hear. We cannot speak," he said.
Mukherjee said the Parliament has acted as a "shock absorber" on several occasions and whenever there have been disputes and dissensions, the Lok Sabha has played a role in defusing it.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi emphasised that independence of the Parliament must be protected at all costs and urged members to live up to the standards of the makers of Constitution.
BJP leader LK Advani shared Mukherjee's views and said tolerance and understanding for each others' views and debates in Parliament can solve issues.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj called for greater representation of women in Parliament.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said a major challenge before the country was to improve polity and good governance.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said in Rajya Sabha that 100 sittings of Parliament were necessary and regretted the fact that during the last two decades Parliament never sat for more than 100 days in a year while the British Parliament on the other hand sits for at least 160 days a year.
At the end of the day-long debate, both the Houses passed unanimous resolutions to "uphold and maintain the dignity, sanctity and supremacy of Parliament" and to "make it an effective instrument of change" while strengthening democratic values and principles.
The members in both the Houses also resolved to enhance the accountability of the government towards the people through the oversight of Parliament.
Members of both the Houses met together in the central hall in evening when President Pratibha Patil presented mementoes to 92-year-old Rishang Keshing, a Rajya Sabha member from Manipur, who was a member of the the first Lok Sabha.
With agencies' inputs