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With 86 pending bills, citizens cry foul over unruly MPs in parliament

Wednesday September 14, 2011 12:15:25 PM, Anjali Ojha, IANS

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New Delhi: People are sick and tired of MPs for causing frequent disruptions of parliament and point out that they take salaries for work not done. The little over month-long monsoon session that just ended saw unceasing bedlam in both the houses over a variety of issues, ranging from the frivolous to the Anna Hazare anti-corruption campaign.

With only 11 bills passed and 14 introduced during the Aug 1-Sep 8 sitting, the number of legislations, especially those relating to important economic reforms, awaiting parliamentary passage on their way to becoming the law of the land has risen to an astromical 86.
Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman M.H. Ansari has decried the loss of productive time of parliament to frequent disruptions. He called it "a sad commentary on the right and duty of members to participate meaningfully in the proceedings of the house".

The middle class is disgusted.

"So many hours were lost... so few bills passed, I wonder what is the point of having a month-long session for work which can be done in a week and a half," asked Aashish Khanna, a law student of Delhi University.

Thanks to frequent adjournments, the crucial question hour -- when MPs can ask any question about any subject -- lost 60 percent of its scheduled time.

According to PRS Legislative Research, the Lok Sabha worked for only 67 percent of its scheduled hours and the Rajya Sabha for 62 percent.

"The government functioning depends on how parliament functions. But the way the number of our pending bills is increasing, I think MPs are not doing their duty," Madhurima Sharma, a government employee, said.

According to information from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats, both houses saw frequent disruptions. At least half the 26 sittings were paralysed.

Political experts say that frequent disruptions are becoming a trend.

Pradip Kumar Datta, head of Delhi University's political science department, says coalition politics are to blame -- to some extent.

He admits this cannot change till some accountability is fixed on parliamentarians.

"Parliament will raise political issues, adjournment will also be a part of the tactics, the only way out is a methodology by which pressure can be created on MPs to observe some code of productivity," Datta told IANS.

Nisar-ul-Haq, head of Jamia Millia Islamia's political science department, agreed the frequent aggression of MPs is not a good sign.

"Our parliament represents the biggest democracy in the world. But instead of being the best parliament, time is wasted due to disruptions," he said.

It is not that parliament breakdowns are a new phenomenon. But now, Haq says, people are becoming more aware of how the MPs conduct themselves due to live telecasts.

Most MPs are even found missing from the house later in the day.

"Except when there is voting or a whip (party order) is issued, MPs come, sign the register and leave. Most of the time they sign and immediately leave to catch a flight to their hometown..." public opinion expert and political analyst N.Bhaskar Rao told IANS.

"It does not happen in any profession that you sign and go, and are paid salary for that," he said.

MPs have a basic salary of Rs.50,000 per month, Rs.45,000 per month of constituency allowance, and Rs. 45,000 of office expense per month. Their daily allowance during parliament session is Rs.2,000 per day, for which they have to sign the attendance register.

"Previous Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee recommended that if parliament doesn't function, MPs' salary should be cut. However, instead of their salaries being curtailed they increased it, that too, without any debate," Rao said referring to last year's salary hike. .

When parliament adjourned Sep 8, both Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, disgusted with the goings-on in parliament, urged the MPs to introspect.

Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, one of India's best parliamentarians, has not only repeatedly condemned parliament disruptions but even alleged that some of them were pre-arranged.

All this only fuels more anger.

"It sets a bad example," argued Rajiv Kumar, an executive at a multinational in Gurgaon near Delhi. "They raise the same issues on road, and then again in parliament. What is the difference then?"

He added: "I think we should have a performance audit for MPs, they need to justify their salary."

(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at






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