After a meeting between Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and an all-party meeting called by Speaker Meira Kumar, it has been agreed to take up the Finance Bill and demands for grant in Lok Sabha on Tuesday. However, it will be premature to view it as a breakthrough in the logjam that has disrupted normal working of Parliament during the budget session. No important business has been transacted in the present budget session since the House resumed on April 22. This is despite the fact that important bills on land acquisition, food security, Lok Pal and economic reforms have been pending for a long time.
Unless the ruling and the opposition give up their present confrontationist approach, it may be impossible for Parliament to take up these. Since the beginning of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009, the government had planned to introduce 390 bills. So far, it has been able to introduce only 187 of them. Out of the 365 bills planned, only 96 have received parliamentary approval and that, too, without much discussion. The most glaring case was that of the sexual harassment bill that was passed in September last year in just 16 minutes.
As it nears the end of its term, Lok Sabha’s productive time stands at 70 per cent, which is significantly lower than that of the previous Houses. Entire sessions got washed out due to repeated adjournments. Most of the time was lost in disruptions caused by the standoff between the government and the opposition. Both the sides should share the blame for making a mockery of parliamentary institutions. The former must give up their arrogance and engage the opposition for national interest. The latter must realise that disrupting Parliament amounts to abdication of their responsibility to make the government accountable.