Participating in the debate to mark the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament here on Sunday, Lalu Prasad (RJD) said in the Lok Sabha that regional parties would play a key role in the coming Presidential election and 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Mulayam Singh (SP) asked the members to take a pledge to fulfil Mahatma Gandhi's dreams as farmers' suicides and hunger-related deaths remain a major challenge for the country.

Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal-United) said despite having expert parliamentarians and legislators, the government was taking the help of committees to ascertain the number of poor. He wanted to know how the number of calories consumed could be a basis of ascertaining poverty.

Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) said so long as pauperisation, starvation and illiteracy exist, there would be challenges to parliamentary democracy.

Agriculture Minister and NCP member Sharad Pawar made a reference to imposition of emergency and said the people had taught a lesson to those who tried to deviate from democracy and brought in others to restore it.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said there were so many countries which became independent with India and adopted democracy but then fell to dictatorship. But India because of some intrinsic culture of accommodation and tolerance survived as a democratic society.

“We still continue to face the curse of terrorism and insurgency. Let us resolve that there should be no politics on these issues,” he said.

Parliament's efficiency

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) pointed out that the efficiency of the Indian Parliament depends to a large extent on the duration and proper conduct of the parliamentary proceedings. During the last two decades the Indian Parliament never sat for more than 100 days in a year while the British Parliament sits for at least 160 days a year.

“We seriously consider, through a Constitutional Amendment, if necessary, making it mandatory for 100 sittings a year. I think, that is necessary as a corrective step for the future,” he said.

Mayawati (BSP) said narrow political interest had a profound impact on Parliamentary democracy hampering welfare measures. Due to political and individual selfishness, “we have also not been able to eradicate corruption because of which the people have been forced to demand something like the Lokpal Bill,” she said.

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