NEW DELHI: Over 100 per cent productivity in a truncated monsoon session. That is a landmark the Rajya Sabha could have been proud of had the situation been normal. But the target was achieved amid the absence of the Opposition, which has been boycotting the session since Tuesday over the suspension of eight members from the House for unruly behaviour.
As many as 15 weighty bills were passed between Tuesday and Wednesday in the space of nearly seven-and-a-half hours in the Upper House. In other words, one bill every 30 minutes. Legislative agenda wrapped up, both Houses were then adjourned sine die. As for the Opposition, it held a silent march on Parliament’s premises over three farm sector reform bills and later met President Ramnath Kovind to request him to return the “unconstitutional” legislations.
Eighteen political parties had earlier written to Kovind expressing concern over the manner in which the farm bills were passed in the House of Elders. However, in view of the Covid-19 situation, only Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad got to meet the President. In just 10 sittings, the Rajya Sabha passed as many as 25 bills. An equal number of bill were passed in the Lok Sabha. “The productivity of the House during this session has been 100.47 per cent,” Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said in his valedictory address.
Prominent among the eight bills cleared in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday were three on labour code reforms, despite floor leaders of 12 Opposition parties jointly urging Naidu not to let them pass without proper discussion. “These bills affect the livelihood of crores of workers across the country. It will be a great blot on our democracy to have these bills pass unilaterally today,” the Opposition wrote. Referring to it, Naidu cited precedents when business was taken up as per schedule and bills approved during boycott or walkout by some members.
Naidu said had the letter suggested the postponement of the bill by stating the Opposition members would attend the House later, he would have discussed the request with the government. But there was no such assurance, so he decided to go ahead with the bills, he said. Replying to the debate on the three labour reforms bills, minister Santosh Gangwar said the labour reforms will provide a transparent system to suit the changed business environment. As for the Lok Sabha, it “registered 167 per cent productivity, spending 68 per cent of the time on the legislative business,” said Speaker Om Birla.