In terms of number of bills passed, this Lok Sabha will fare the worst among those that have completed a full five-year term.

The last session of Parliament before a Lok Sabha election is usually politically more charged and legislatively less productive than any other routine session. But the current session of the 15th Lok Sabha will be particularly remembered for the manner in which some members have managed to highlight contentious issues by stalling the proceedings, and preventing the passage of important bills. Indeed, differences of opinion over the Telangana Bill and the communal violence Bill could end up effectively blocking legislation including the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill and the Street Vendors Bill. Instead of looking to push through amendments, the opponents of the Telangana Bill are intent on preventing its introduction in the House. The Bill seems to have been deliberately kept for introduction at this late stage in anticipation of objections. Although the issue has been simmering for quite a while now, the government only managed to come up with a hurriedly drafted legislation, reflecting its half-hearted and confused approach to the creation of a state of Telangana. Whatever the political calculations of the Congress — whether it wants to use the Bill to win more seats in the Telangana region or to blame the opposition for its non-passage, or to deliberately send confused signals in an attempt to retain support in both Telangana and Seemandhra regions — the current situation is unlikely to yield any political dividend for the party. Clearly, there is no solution that will fully satisfy either the Telangana supporters or those fighting for a united Andhra Pradesh. But the national leadership of the Congress and the Centre could have acted earlier to push through a compromise formula addressing the concerns of both sides to the extent possible. But the approach seems to have been reactive, and calculated to delay matters as much as possible.

In terms of number of bills passed, this Lok Sabha will fare the worst among those that have completed a full five-year term. Too many important bills have been left to the very end, and their fate hangs in the balance. Indeed, this situation sums up the performance of the UPA-II government — confused, indecisive, and weak. Despite seeing through important pieces of legislation such as the Food Security Act and the Right to Education Act, the government’s record on the legislative front is poor. It did precious little to push through the Women’s Reservation Bill. If the current session ends the way it has begun, without transacting any substantive business, that would indeed mirror the functioning of UPA-II over the last five years.

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