It is likely to be remembered for the work that was not done: Ansari

Coalgate has washed out the monsoon session of Parliament, with both Houses adjourned sine die on Friday. The session, which began on August 8, had sittings only for six days.

Following the tabling of the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s report on coal blocks allocation, Opposition parties — particularly the BJP — took up the issue vigorously. They stalled the proceedings in both Houses, seeking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation as he was in charge of Coal when the alleged scam took place. Thus 13 days were lost. As per a rough estimate, Rs. 1.50 crore was spent for an hour of sitting.

“This session is likely to be remembered for the work that was not done,” said Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari while adjourning the House sine die.

Earlier, protests on Coalgate, a quota for the SC/STs and the Sri Lankan Tamils issue began as soon as the House assembled. Opposition parties relented a while to bid farewell to Rajya Sabha Secretary General V.K. Agnihotri, who retires on September 30. The protests flared up again, forcing the Presiding Officer to adjourn the House till noon.

When the House assembled, the Chair went through the motion of getting some reports and notifications tabled and called for the tabling of Special Mentions. Mr. Ansari then read out the valedictory address.

“The data is in no need of commentary,” Mr. Ansari said. He pointed out that the session saw the passing of only three Bills and the introduction of two others. Out of 399 starred questions listed, only 11 could be answered orally. Eight short notice questions were admitted but none was discussed and three short-duration discussions — on the increase in prices of goods and services, deficient rainfall and an impending drought and the problems of food security — were listed but not taken up. Altogether, about 62 hours were lost on account of disruptions.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told journalists that though many important Bills were listed for consideration, only four were adopted successfully — the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development Bill, 2012; the Chemical Weapons Convention (Amendment) Bill, 2010; the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2012; and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore Bill, 2010. This was the second worst session during the UPA-II regime. The entire 2010 winter session was washed out as the BJP demanded the setting up of a joint parliamentary committee to go into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

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