208th session of RS adjourned sine die
New Delhi, Aug 25: The 208th session of Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die today with Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat emphasising the need for serious, purposeful and effective conduct of business in an environment of mutual trust, cooperation and harmony to serve the cause of development, progress and welfare of people.
The comment of Mr Shekhawat was significant in view of the three adjournments witnessed by the house today on the twin issues of the interview of Mr Farooq Abdullah on Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar's release in the Kandhar hijack matter and order to three Muslim policemen to shave off their beard in Beed district of Maharashtra.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while appreciating the work done by the upper house, said ''We must explore ways and means of improving the processes of governance, including functioning of Parliamentary system.'' He said that since Television was beaming the proceedings of the house, it has become necessary for Parliament to find ways and means to improve its functioning so that it becomes a role model for people.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj regretted the adjournments faced by the house today due to which the Pathak Committee report and the development fund for KBK districts of Orissa could not be discussed. She reminded the Congress' Chief Whip V Narayansamy that while it was the right and privilege of the opposition to adjourn the house, it was the work of the ruling party to ensure its smooth functioning.
Mr Shekhawat said that during the Question Hour, the House was adjourned twice and if he would try to take up again the normal proceedings, he would probably not be successul, so it was better to adjourn the house sine die. He said that the Action Taken Report on the Pathak Committee report and special mentions which could not be taken up due to adjournments should be considered as laid on the table of the house.
Though complimenting members for doing a lot of business during the session, he reminded them that much more could have been acomplished but for the lost opportunity due to occasional ''discord and disturbances.'' ''The lesson for us is to build a shared ethos of transacting business as per rules without disturbances and for this to achieve we need a mechanism whereby we pro-actively engage ourselves in dialogue and discussion to speedily resolve any differences or conflict that may arise on any sensitive issue.'' He hoped that senior leaders of all parties would take necessary initiatives on this behalf.
''I cannot over-emphasise the fact that only the serious, purposeful and effective conduct of business in the house, in an environment of mutual trust, cooperation and harmony will enable us to serve our common and shared objective to serve the cause of development, progress and welfare of the people. Then alone we will be enriching our democratic heritage which we have so proudly showcased in the Parliament Museum inaugurated by the Hon'ble President during this session itself,'' Mr Shekhawat pointed out.
The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that the house could transact a lot of business despite ''occasional turbulence.'' He said that 16 important bills were considered and passed during the 33-day long session which started on July 24. Lauding Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for providing ''outstanding and productive service and leadership,''the house could accomplish important business during its 22 sittings.
Dr Singh said that they could take ''legitimate pride'' over the tenor of the debate on treaty with US on nuclear issue, price rise, farmers' suicides, Mumbai bomb blasts, terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir. He said that the house could deliberate on other issues of vital concern which showed the effectiveness of Parliament in meeting the needs and aspirations of the people.
He said that while passing the Office of Profit Bill, the high quality debate reflected the wisdom of Parliament which constituted a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the long term issue reflected in the message of President A P J Abdul Kalam while returning the bill for reconsideration of Parliament. ''That shows what role an alert Parliament could play to safeguard the interest of the nation, he said.
Regarding Ms Swaraj's regret that no discussion could take place on the reported suspension of assistance to KBK districts of Orissa due to adjournments forced today, the Prime Minister assured that their interest of these backward districts would be safeguarded. He said that there was ''disinformation campaign'' going on this issue and both the centre and state governments would ensure that the assitance to these districts would continue. He also said that the boost given to the agro-industry would generate a lot of employment.
However, the Prime Minister did not respond to the Opposition leader's charge that due to ruling party stalling the proceedings, no discussion could take place on the Pathak Authority's report on the Volcker Committee report on Oil for Food Scam. He also avoided commenting on Ms Swaraj's demand that the government should take initiative in setting up a Parliamentary Committee to review the NCERT text books containing ''unparliamentary language'' as Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh had yesterday assured the members that he would look into their demand in this regard.
Both the ruling party and the Opposition were unanimous in praising the supreme leadership of Mr Shekhawat who completed four years recently as the Chairman of the upper house. They both said that his impartial and effective leadership played a crucial role in more or less smooth functioning of the house.
Among the important legislative business carried out by the Rajya Sabha were 16 bills including the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2005, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2006, the Food Safety and Standard Bill 2006, the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill 2005 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2005, Mr Shekhawat said.
He hoped that passing of the bills would provide requisite fillip to improve and strengthen the policy framework leading to improved public governance. The house discussed wide ranging issues during Short Duration Discussion, Half an Hour Discussion and Calling Attentions. About 100 Special Mentions on diverse subjects of public importance were made.
Expressing concern over the tragic happenings in rural households due to farmers' sucicide, Mr Shekhawat hoped that the serious discussion in the house would lead to purposeful initiative of action with positive results. He said that debate and discussion on the security and terrorism would further strengthen the will for determined action to overpower the enemies of peace and progress.
He said that the serious and purposeful discussion on the issue of the Indo-US Nuclear deal would not only bring transparency of action but build up public confidence and credibility in the system of governance.