Vice President Ansari whips the whips

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Mumbai, Feb 4 : Vice President Hamid Ansari today whipped the party whips for failing to use their whip and discharge their primary duty of facilitating the functioning of the legislatures.

Addressing the 14th All India whips conference attended by around 130 delegates from all over the country, here today, Ansari said that the party whips were "mute spectators" to disruptions in Parliament and legislatures and thereby failed to discharge their "primary duty of facilitating the functioning of the legislature."

He said in the current Lok Sabha, 21 per cent of the time has been lost due to adjournments.

The annual average of the number of bills passed by Parliament has come down from 68 in the 1952-1961 to 49.9 in 1992-2001.

"Assurances given on the floor of the House are being fulfilled with lesser regularity," he said.

Ansari said the number of sittings in the Rajya Sabha has come down from an annual average of 90.5 in 1952-61 to 71.3 in 1992-2001, a decline of 20 per cent. The comparative figures for the Lok Sabha are 124.2 and 81 or a decline of 34 per cent.

He further said political parties do not observe sufficient care in the selection of their representatives in legislatures.

"Nearly 23 per cent of MPs elected in 2004 had criminal cases registered against them; over half of these are cases of a nature that could lead to imprisonment of five or more years," he said.

Recalling 'An Agenda for India' resolution adopted by the Parliament on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of India's Independence, in 1997, that made commitments of maintaining the inviolability of the Question Hour, refraining from transgressing into the official areas of the House, and desisting from interruption during the President's address, Ansari said: "Ten years later, record shows that each of these solemn commitments has been observed in the breach."

The deliberative functions of the legislature are decidedly in decline, Ansari said, adding that all sides of the House bear responsibility for it.

"The Treasury benches shy away from substantive discussion of issues of public concern; the opposition prefers to resort to the so-called Zero Hour only to mention these issues in hyperbolic terms. Deliberation is thus reduced to a zero sum game," he said, adding "Policies are offered to the public as products; the electorate is denied a peep into the process."

"The writing on the wall is clear. The instrumentalities at the disposal of our legislatures have either been blunted or become dysfunctional," he said.

He said deliberative role of the Parliament must be restored by increasing the number of sittings annually to 130 days.

The United States Congress, on an average, has 150 sittings in a year, he noted.

ANI

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