Marred by frequent disruptions, Monsoon session ends early; next session in new building

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Parliament house. Photo: AFP/File

New Delhi: The Monsoon session of Parliament ended on Monday, four days ahead of schedule, after continued disruptions during the last three weeks over issues like price rise, suspension of 27 MPs, the controversial "Rashtrapatni" remark and the Enforcement Directorate's action.

Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, which were adjourned sine die this afternoon, saw the passage of seven and five bills, respectively, during the session which was to end on August 12.

While Lok Sabha saw a total of 16 sittings that lasted for 44 hours and 29 minutes, the upper house met for 38 hours with as many as 47 hours lost due to disruptions, an issue flagged by outgoing Chairman Venkaiah Naidu who has frequently expressed unhappiness over the stalling of proceedings.

Rajya Sabha also bid farewell to Vice President Naidu, whose tenure ends on August 10. During the next session, Rajya Sabha proceedings would be chaired by Jagdeep Dhakhar, who will take over on August 11.

Members cutting across party lines recalled the contributions of Naidu, noting how he inspired and allowed them to speak in their native languages.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his witty one-liners were "revered, and never countered". He hailed Naidu's highly productive five-year term as vice president of India and Rajya Sabha chairman and said the attendance of members in the House increased during his tenure.

The prime minister said a record 177 bills were passed or discussed during these five years.

"Your one-liners are wit-liners and win-liners as well... There is nothing left to be said after that. Your every word is heard, preferred, revered and never countered," said the prime minister, imitating Naidu's trademark style of making incisive, witty and rhyming remarks.

Modi said Independence Day this year would be celebrated with the president, vice president, Lok Sabha speaker and prime minister who were all born in independent India and were from very humble backgrounds.

In his remarks, Naidu said people expect Parliament "to discuss, debate and not disrupt" and appealed to members to maintain "decency, dignity and decorum" so that the image and respect of the house are maintained.

He also urged members not to pass bills amid a din but to follow the high standards of conduct.

While adjourning the House also, he lamented that over 47 hours were lost due to disruptions in the upper house that prevented members from raising issues of public importance.

Brushing aside speculation, Naidu said, "People now often talk -- either president, otherwise dissident or a resident. I am not going to all these three."

"I never aspired to be the president, never become a dissident and will never be confined to the residence. I would be moving around. Going around, meeting you all, greeting you all and talking to you on larger issues. I would not get into politics. We are all working on our way, We are not enemies, we are rivals," Naidu said.

While some Opposition members urged him to pen an autobiography, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge appreciated how Naidu functioned despite being "under pressure".

Naidu turned emotional when Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien narrated an incident from the Vice President's early life when he lost his mother as a one-year-old.

Before adjourning Rajya Sabha, which he presided over for the last time, Naidu said the house had 16 sittings during which it conducted business for more than 38 hours. Five government bills were discussed and passed.

"However, more than 47 hours were lost due to interruptions which is a sad reflection of the functioning of the upper house of Parliament,'' Naidu, who was presiding over his last session, said.

"The session was characterised by regular and continuous disruptions which deprived members of the opportunity to discuss matters of urgent public importance and seek accountability of the executives through questions," he noted.

Government sources said that the members of various parties were in favour of the earlier conclusion of the session as they wanted to visit their constituencies due to upcoming festivals.

However, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien hit out at the government for cutting short the Monsoon session.

"This is the seventh consecutive time the parliament session has been cut short.

"Stop mocking #Parliament. We will fight for its sanctity and prevent PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah from turning this great institution into the Gujarat Gymkhana," O'Brien said in a tweet.

Proceedings were disrupted since the start of the Monsoon session, as opposition parties protested to press for an immediate discussion on issues like price rise and GST and later over the suspension of 23 Rajya Sabha members. Four members of Lok Sabha were also suspended.

Congress members also protested against the Enforcement Directorate's action against the Gandhis and other party leaders in the National Herald case.

During the session, the Lok Sabha witnessed an acrimonious debate on the issue of price rise.

Also, Congress Leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's 'Rashtrapatni' remark on President Droupadi Murmu led to several adjournments as a war of words broke out between opposition and treasury benches.

The issue reached a flash point when Union Minister Smriti Irani sought an apology from Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

A post-adjournment chat between Gandhi and senior BJP MP Rama Devi in Lok Sabha on the demand for apology had turned ugly after Irani intervened in the conversation and was seen gesturing at the Congress chief.

Addressing the House, Naidu said that out of 235 starred questions, only 161 could be answered orally and Question Hour could not be taken up in seven days.

He said only 25 matters could be raised by members with the permission of the Chair and only 60 special mentions could be made during the entire session.

"Only five government bills were discussed and passed during the session, 27 private members were also introduced and only one private member bill regarding the right to health could be partly discussed during the entire session. No private member resolution could be taken up," Naidu said.

During the day, Rajya Sabha also passed a bill to convert the National Rail and Transportation University, a deemed-to-be-university, into Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya, an autonomous central institution.

Adjourning the lower house sine die, Speaker Om Birla informed that during this session, a total number of 16 sittings were held which lasted for about 44 hours and 29 minutes.

During the session, the Lok Sabha passed seven legislations including The Indian Antarctic Bill, The Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, The National Anti-Doping Bill, The Wild Life Protection (Amendment) Bill, The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, and The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill.

Referring to the Question Hour, Birla said that oral answers were given to 46 starred questions during the Session.

The members raised 318 matters of public interest before the House under Rule 377. During the Zero Hour, members raised 98 matters on various important issues.


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