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Rajya Sabha’s momentous days can now be cherished for ever

Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, along with Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and TMC leader Derek O'Brien, release a booklet to commemorate the Rajya Sabha's 250th session, in New Delhi on November 17, 2019.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, along with Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and TMC leader Derek O'Brien, release a booklet to commemorate the Rajya Sabha's 250th session, in New Delhi on November 17, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Book chronicles the history of upper House since 1952

Rajya Sabha has sat beyond midnight on nine occasions and so far its longest sitting was on December 17, 1981 when the House sat till 4.43 a.m. to debate and clear Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to ensure that normal life of people is not obstructed by strikes and shutdowns.

The only other record to rival the 1981 sitting is when the Upper House sat till 3.22 a.m. to discuss the purchase of the Bofors gun in December 1986.

This and many other such nuggets are part of Rajya Sabha: The Journey since 1952, a publication brought out by the Rajya Sabha secretariat to mark the 250th session of the Upper House that begins from Monday.

Rajya Sabha’s first sitting was on May 13, 1952.

Extended debates

The longest debate on any given subject till date was on the government’s failure to provide adequate security to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in wake of his assassination at Sriperumbudur by LTTE cadres.

The discussion went on for 12 hours and four minutes on June 4, 1991. Demolition of the Babri Masjid was debated days after the incident from December 18-21, 1992, for 11 hours and 37 minutes.

The Upper House which on March 9, 2010, cleared the Women’s Reservation Bill that proposes to reserve 33% of all seats in Lok Sabha for women, has a dismissal record itself in terms of women members.

So far, Rajya Sabha has had 2,280 members including those who serving more than one term.

Of these only 209 were women — a measly 9.1%. In 2014 it had the highest number of women members at 31 and in 1970 the lowest at 14.

Under Congress governments from 1952-1969 and again between 1972-1977, there was no leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha since no opposition parties had enough members to stake claim to the position.

Three expulsions

In 67 years of it’s existence, the Upper House has expelled only three members. First member to be expelled was Subramanian Swamy on November 15, 1976 after his “conduct and activities were found to be derogatory to the dignity of the house”. Mr. Swamy back as a member of the House now.

The other members to be expelled are Dr. Chattrapal Singh Lodha in December 2005 and Sakshi Maharaj in March.

Speaking at an all party meeting on Sunday, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said, “Rajya Sabha has come a long way in addressing the challenges faced and meeting the requirements of the nation from time to time. But we still have miles to go in letting our country realize it’s full potential by making up for the missed time and opportunities and in respect of the functioning of the House itself.”

The upper house will also hold a special discussion on the role of Rajya Sabha in Indian polity and need for reforms.

Also to commemorate the occasions Vice-President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha Venkaiah Naidu will launch a special ₹250 silver coin and ₹5 postal stamp. Two special editions of historic speeches made in the upper house too will be released.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 4:12:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rajya-sabhas-momentous-days-can-now-be-cherished-for-ever/article30000351.ece

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