New Delhi, Aug 11: Parliament’s nearly month-long Monsoon Session ended on Friday, with the two houses recording a dip in productivity compared with the last session.
The session began on July 17, the day voting to elect the 14th President of India was held. During the session, voting to elect the 13th Vice President was also held on August 8.
During the session, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also saw itself becoming the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha after a fresh round of elections to the upper house.
Unlike previous sessions, the upper house recorded a higher productivity compared with the lower house, where the BJP along with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners, enjoys a majority.
According to the data provided by the secretariats of the two houses, the Lok Sabha’s productivity was 77.94 per cent, significantly down from 114 per cent during the Budget Session.
The Rajya Sabha’s productivity was marginally higher compared with the lower house at 79.95 per cent. In the Budget Session, the upper house clocked around 93 per cent productivity.
Productivity is the ratio between the scheduled number of hours and the number of hours the house actually worked.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that the government was happy with the session’s outcome.
“It has been a successful session in terms of legislative business conducted and wide participation of all political parties in discussions on various issues of national importance,” Kumar said at the press conference he addressed with Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and S.S. Ahluwalia.
Ahluwalia said the dip in productivity in percentage terms did not affect legislative business done by the two houses, as the Lok Sabha passed 14 bills and the Rajya Sabha nine bills.
“This session was short. In between, there were holidays, there was the Presidential election, obituary references, and there was also a day dedicated to discussion on the Quit India movement. There were disruptions, even though we were ready to discuss what they wanted…” the Minister said, adding that these factors led to low productivity ratio.
“There was no affect on the legislative business, as both houses passed several bills,” he said.
During the Monsoon Session, the opposition protested over several issues, including the agrarian crisis, withdrawal of cooking gas subsidy, and stalking of a young woman by the son of a Haryana BJP leader.
Two major issues that saw opposition protests were mob lynchings and cow vigilantes, with members blaming the government of inaction. Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections also led to much heat as the opposition Congress alleged use of money and muscle power to influence its MLAs.
Ananth Kumar said though time was lost to disruptions, members compensated by sitting extra hours.
The Lok Sabha lost nearly 30 hours to disruptions but sat for more than 10 hours extra. The Rajya Sabha lost around 25 hours, but members sat for seven hours extra.
The bills passed during the session include The Integrated Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, The Right of Children Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, and The Right of Children Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill.
Ananth Kumar called the passage of The Integrated Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill “historic”.
Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2017-18, including Railways, and Demands for Excess Grants for 2014-15 and related Appropriation Bills were discussed and passed by the Lok Sabha.
These Bills were sent to the Rajya Sabha on August 2, but could not be taken up for consideration but were not returned to the Lok Sabha. As per the rules, the bills will deemed to have been passed by both houses on August 15, the end of 14-day period for returning a Finance Bill to the lower house.
The session also saw External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speak on the stand-off with China along the country’s border in Sikkim, as the upper house took up a discussion on India’s foreign policy.