The first full-fledged session of Parliament of Narendra Modi's regime concluded on a positive note, with the government brandishing it as the most productive one since 2011.
While the Lok Sabha functioned for 167 hours against 19.36 hours during the budget session last year, in Rajya Sabha, MPs worked 38 hours more than the actual allotted time, legislating and debating on crucial issues. The budget-cum-monsoon session of Parliament adjourned sine die on Thursday. Both government as well as the main opposition Congress took credit for the functioning of the House.
Both the parliamentary affairs minister, Venkaiah Naidu, and the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, in separate media interactions reeled out the statistics, comparing this session with the earlier ones when the UPA was in power.
Naidu, while expressing satisfaction over the productivity of the session said "I have no hesitation in sharing the credit with Opposition."
Azad said the current session was productive because his party behaved responsibly unlike the BJP.
There were disruptions in both the House resulting in loss of time, but those were compensated by both the Houses clocking more hours by sitting extra time. The Lok Sabha lost 14 hrs 23 minutes, but gained 27 hrs and 10 minutes to compensate the loss. The same with the Rajya Sabha that lost 21 hrs and 22 minutes but compensated with sitting late for 38 hrs and 12 minutes.
INSURANCE BILL: Venkaiah Naidu admitted the first setback the government got on the insurance bill when the Opposition drove home the point that it is in a minority and cannot get any bill passed without the opposition's cooperation. The Opposition was insisting on referring the Bill that envisages higher FDI in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent to the Select Committee of the House. The government finally gave in, referring it to the select committee on the last day on Thursday but with a rider that it must give its report by the end of the first week of the next session to get the law passed in that session.
The biggest achievement for the Modi government to flaunt, however, was the passage of the twin Bills for replacing the collegium system for appointment of the Supreme Court and High Court judges with the National Judicial Appointments Commission in the last two days of the session and that too unanimously in both the Houses.
The Parliamentary Standing Committees that scrutinise the working of the ministries in camera are all ready and should be announced by the Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman in the coming days. Venkaiah Naidu said they could not be announced during the session since one or two parties did not give their MPs' names for inclusion. "We have done our work."
As regards the long-drawn voting through paper slips during divisions on the Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said: "We gave our sitting arrangement 20 days ago to the Lok Sabha secretariat but it was because of some differences among the opposition parties that the seats could not be allotted, preventing use of the electronic voting machines. That problem shall not be in the next session as the Speaker will be finalising the allocation of the seats during the intervening period, Venkaiah Naidu added.