It is not only the UPA government that has forgotten half of the promises made by it in parliament, even the undertakings given back by the Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee governments have been pending action.
According to information obtained from the union ministry of parliamentary affairs, not less than 135 promises made by different governments before 2005 are waiting to be fulfilled.
Many of these promises were made by the NDA government during its six-year tenure. Besides, at least three promises made by the Rajiv Gandhi government are yet to see the light of day.
In December 1988, the then labour and employment minister promised the House that the government was looking to amend the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 to ensure better working condition for the working class. However, the file has been gathering dust for 25 years.
The subsequent government also toed the line. During the PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure, the then social justice and empowerment minister said in August 1995 that the government would into the increasing incidents of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the country and take action against perpetrators. However, this assurance also met the same fate as many others.
Undertakings given by ministers in parliament are recorded by the parliamentary affairs ministry for follow-up. The promises have to be fulfilled within three months.
A parliamentary standing committee on government assurances, from time to time, scrutinises the promises made and reports on the extent to which they have been fulfilled.
If ministries are unable to finish the work on time, they have to seek an extension. If they figure out that they are unable to implement it, then they have to ask the committee to drop the issue altogether.
It is unclear how subsequent governments got extension for the promises from the committee for 25 years.
The ministry of finance and the ministry of social justice and empowerment lead the list of unfulfilled promises.
Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, BJP MP from Chandrapur, Maharashtra, who is a member of the parliamentary standing committee on government assurances, told dna that at present the committee is only dealing with undertakings given after 2005. “We don’t know what is happening to those assurances given before 2005. Because of several changes in the government and policies, it would not be possible anymore to implement those pending assurances,” he said.
It is the responsibility of the government and respective ministries to ensure that pending assurances are implemented, he said. Between 1987 and 2004, about 100 assurances were dropped by various governments after failing to implement them.