Peace at last in parliament, crucial bills passed


NEW DELHI, Aug 11 (IANS): After days of disruption by opposition MPs protesting varied issues, peace finally returned to parliament Thursday and the government was able to get crucial legislation passed in the two houses – a first this monsoon session.

Both houses of parliament were able to conduct their respective question hours without any disturbance. Important papers related to the functioning of various government departments and ministries were also laid on the table. Debates and discussions were also held, without a single adjournment.

As peace returned, a legislation that allows the government full control of subsidiary banks of the State Bank of India (SBI) from the Reserve Bank of India was passed in the Lok Sabha after a two-hour debate.

The Rajya Sabha also passed the Coinage Bill, 2009, that seeks to consolidate at least four laws pertaining to coins and mints, apart from prescribing strict penalties for illegal melting and counterfeiting of these legal tenders.

The monsoon session of parliament had started on a stormy note on Aug 1 with opposition members cornering the government on issues like alleged irregularities in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games, rising prices and police crackdown on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists in the capital.

In the first 10 days of the session that ends Sep 8, question hours in both houses had been disrupted almost every day. The number of questions answered orally as against the number that were listed to be answered till Wednesday were 14 as against 160 in the Lok Sabha and 18 as against 160 in the Rajya Sabha.

Of the 32 bills listed for introduction at the beginning of the session, only five have been introduced so far. Thirty-five bills have been listed for passing but none was passed till Wednesday.

On a peaceful day, opposition MPs also indulged in healthy criticism of the government on these legislations.

At one point of time, the opposition caught the government on the wrong foot when none of the cabinet ministers was present in the Lok Sabha during a debate on the State Bank of India bill.

BJP`s Shahnawaz Hussain raised the point of order when his colleague Nishikant Dubey was speaking.

Soon, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal was seen rushing into the house. The BJP MPs took a dig at Bansal, saying he was accusing the opposition of not being serious to pass the crucial banking bill.

Smiles were exchanged and it was back to the business after days of bitter confrontation that had led to a stalemate between the government and opposition.

The logjam ended after a series of meetings Wednesday between the government and the BJP.

The Left had alleged that disruption of parliament work, delaying discussion on important issues like corruption and prices, was a `joint effort` of the BJP and the Congress.

`The BJP and Congress have joined hands to delay the discussion on corruption and price rise. What is the point in disrupting the house? It is a joint effort by the BJP and the Congress. Quite frankly, the Congress is benefiting from this,` CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said.

The BJP and other opposition parties targeted the government demanding the resignation of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit over irregularities in the Games and also that of Home Minister P. Chidambaram over the police crackdown.


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