Wanted : Opposition in our Parliament/Assemblies

sob

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As envisaged in the Indian constitution the opposition party has also an equal role in running of the country. Theirs is the voice of protest, dissent, offering an alternative to the Govt. of the day.

Sadly since the general elections held this year, the Opposition has vacated the vital space that it was supposed to occupy. This has happened not only at the Centre but it is happening at the state level also. This will have a negative impact on all of us. A case in point has been the huge increase in prices of essential commodities over last one year has gone virtually unchallenged by the opposition. The ruling party has got away scot free and is also changing the way the Inflation figures are reported.

Prices of Food items and other essential commodities have sky rocketed but the inflation figures have been in the negative for most of the year.

NO CHECKS - Opposition goes missing in action in most states

The decline of the opposition in several states, an emerging trend in Indian politics, was highlighted by the Congress party again in the recent assembly elections.The Congress and its allies retained power in Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh and Haryana in October, with divided oppositions unable to dent their prospects.

A range of issues, from more pronounced internal feuds and a preoccupation with managing allies, have made state opposition parties unproductive, precluding them from their function as a check on governments, say analysts.

"The opposition in most states is in complete disarray," said Bidyut Chakrabarty, professor of political science at Delhi University. "The idea that the opposition will play an effective role in controlling the government has disappeared, both at the Centre and in states."

In several states, the opposition is preoccupied with internal feuds. In Madhya Pradesh, which elected a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for a second consecutive term last December, the opposition Congress is bogged in factional infighting. "Like in any other state, the Congress is a divided house here and has completely failed as an opposition," said Suresh Mehrotra, a Bhopal-based political analyst. "The party, which has too many important leaders, has not been able to take on the government on issues such as corruption or even more people-related issues like drinking water scarcity and the power crisis... In fact, no opposition exists in this state."

In Rajasthan, which went to polls in December, the roles of the two parties are reversed.The functioning of the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in the state is virtually unchecked with the main opposition, BJP, reeling under the burden of its factional feud. And with Vasundhara Raje, the former chief minister and head of the party in the state, being forced to quit as leader of the opposition in the assembly, the party has been thrown into further chaos.

The Congress has 101 seats in the 200-member House and the BJP, 78.

"It is true for both the Congress and the BJP that once ousted from power and when forced to sit in the opposition, the parties fail to deal with the organizational anarchy which sets in due to loss of regime," said BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. "Ultimately, the working of the opposition suffers."

Another reason for weak oppositions, experts say, is that political parties are too focused on electoral tactics to concentrate on their legislative and parliamentary roles. "In Tamil Nadu, there is absolutely no opposition in policy issues. Even the customary noise the opposition used to make in some matters is not to be seen anywhere now. Everybody is busy managing elections and alliances," said V.
Krishna Ananth, a Chennaibased columnist and political analyst.

The opposition in Tamil Nadu had been almost nonexistent the past six months with Jayalalithaa, chief of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), only recently resurfacing from her self-imposed exile, resulting in a smooth run for the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam -Congress combine.

Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, both with single-party governments of the BJP and the Congress, respectively, have hardly been engaged by the opposition parties in the state. While the Congress in Karnataka is fraught with domestic disputes, the other opposition party, former prime minister Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), has not been particularly active either.

Experts say both the opposition parties failed to question the government on issues such as the rising communal tensions in the state or the lacklustre response of the government to the floods.

"In both these crucial issues, the government could have been hauled up for its ineffectiveness but both the Congress and the JD(S) failed to capitalize on the limitations of the BJP government," said Sandeep Shastri, a Bangalore-based political analyst.

In Andhra, analysts say the main opposition Telugu Desam Party should have taken up the issue of the "government practically being on a holiday" more seriously. "After chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy's death, the opposition should have questioned the government on this circus of leadership tussle but it failed to do so," said Shastri.

Some states such as the Left Front-ruled West Bengal and the Bahujan Samaj Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh are at the other end of the spectrum, with immensely active but confrontationalist oppositions in Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party and Congress, respectively, at times even stalling development activities.

"Since coalition politics emerged in J&K in 2002, the opposition there has been very effective. The opposition, especially the PDP (Mehbooba Mufti-led People's Democratic Party), has contributed significantly to both mainstream and separatist politics by bringing discourse from the latter into the mainstream agenda," said Rekha Chowdhary, professor of political science at the University of Jammu. "The best way to see the opposition's effectiveness is to see how many times the ruling National Conference changed its discourse after the PDP or Hurriyat raised issues, for instance, in the recent Shopian rape and murder case."



http://epaper.livemint.com/ArticleImage.aspx?article=04_11_2009_021_004&mode=1
 

Yusuf

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Yes totally agree with the article. Ever since the BJP has lost the national and a few assembly elections, it is in shambles and is not providing any decent "oppostion" in the Parliament or Assembly.
Where it is in government with a huge majority, it has dissidence a la Karnataka. The BJP has to pull up its socks or else it will go down further into abyss.

Opposition doesnt mean that they have to oppose all government moves, but we need constructive opposition. I really admire the US system where the minority party also comes up with bills of importance. That is something which India has sorely missed. There are more vested interests at play than national interest. The opposition can run the country if it comes up with great ideas to improve the country and gets it adopted in the Parliament. That will become its ticket to get into power when the next elections come by.

In India, the only thing the opposition does is wait for splits in the ruling party so that they can start fishing in troubled waters and grab the chair. Prime example right now is Deve Gowda who is licking his lips at the internal bickering in the Karnataka state BJP.
 

sob

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MPs bunk Parliament

The question Hour is a session where the MPs can ask questions to the Miniisters on specific lapses or shortcomings of their ministries.However our MPs are not taking their job seriously, as yesterday 32 MPs who had submitted their Questions were not present during the Question Hour. Needless the most releived persons were the ministers who had to answer the questions, some of which could have exposed the shortcomings in their departments.

Question Hour cut short as MPs absent

THE Question Hour in he Lok Sabha was over in merely 25 minutes on Monday after Speaker Meira Kumar was forced to adjourn the House.
Some 32 MPs who had questions listed against their name were absent.
Just after taking three questions and a fourth without any supplementary, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till 12 noon , surprised to find that not one member was present to ask the remaining 17 questions listed against their names. This after Kumar had braved pandemonium in the House by members of the Left parties demanding suspension of Question Hour to discuss the proposed visit of a Central team to West Bengal. "Disruption of Question Hour will not be tolerated," Kumar said and allowed members to ask questions.

The list of absent MPs cut across party lines. Notable among those absent were Varun Gandhi (BJP), Anurag Singh Thakur (BJP) Madhu Goud Yakshi, Eknath Gaikawad, Shruti Choudhary, B Jhansi Lakhsmi (all Cong), Anandrao Adsul, Shivaji Adhalrao Patil (Shiv Sena), Prabodh Panda (CPI), Rajiv Ranjan Singh (JDU), Baijayant Panda and Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM).
Speaker Meira Kumar called 28 names one after another and was informed that the members were absent.
Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal were present in the House when the names were being called.

When contacted, Madhu Goud Yaskhi, a second time Congress MP from Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh, regretted his absence. "I had gone to the reception to bring my guest to visit Parliament. I entered the House at 11:25 am and found that it had been adjourned. I regret it," he told The Indian Express. At the same time he pointed out that on an average only five questions are taken up everyday and that his question was seventh in the list. He also pointed out that he would urge the Speaker to introduce some changes so that more questions can be taken up.

It is after a long gap that the Lok Sabha has witnessed a collapse of Question Hour due to absence of members.
Sources disclosed that a similar situation developed in the House twice in 1981.
Two years later, in 1985, Question Hour fell through in the Lok Sabha because the bulk of people in whose names questions were listed were not present. The count of identical adjournments was three in 1988, two in 1989 and one in 1991

Kumar, while speaking to the media later, described the absence of members as "a serious issue" and said that she would write to political parties on the issue.When asked if she would take a fresh look at Question Hour, Kumar said it was the "essence of democracy" which enabled members to put questions to the executive. "I do want question hour to run smoothly," she said, adding that "it is time to ensure there is co-operation between members so that there is no disruption of question hour."
 

Rage

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This is excellent. A thread on the issue of efficiency of performance and attendance of MP's was long overdue. In relation to the above:


Sonia warns of action against MPs skipping parliament

Tue, Dec 1 01:48 PM


New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi has asked for a list of absentee MPs and warned of firm action against those who skip parliamentary proceedings, a party leader said Tuesday, a day after question hour in the Lok Sabha virtually collapsed because of missing members.

'She has taken an extreme view of it (Monday's incident). She has asked for the list of the party MPs who were not present in the house Monday. And action will be taken against those who take parliamentary proceedings in such a light manner,' said a Congress leader close to Gandhi.

He said the party leadership was not satisfied by the explanations given by the MPs for missing parliament Monday.

'Most of the MPs have said their flight got delayed and train got delayed... while explaining the reasons for their absence. Such excuses are not acceptable,' the leader told IANS.

'It was a lesson to learn,' admitted Congress MP Shruti Choudhary, who was absent along with her party colleagues Harsh Vardhan, Madhu Goud Yaskhi, Anto Antony, Vikrambhai Arjanbhai Maadam, P.T. Thomas, Kodikkunnil Suresh, Jhansi Lakshmi and Eknath Gaikawad.

They were among the 34 MPs with questions listed against their names who were not in the house during question hour Monday.


Indo Asian News Service


Sonia warns of action against MPs skipping parliament - Yahoo! India News
 

sob

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MPs shirk work

In addition to MPs being absent from Paarliament during the crucial question hour, another place where they have record absentisim are the Parliamentary Standing committees. The job of these comittees is to assess the work done by the various ministries, sort of a counter check on the ruling party ministers.

This obviously is a very important post and at the start of the session there is arace among MPs to become a member of one of the comittees for obvious advantages that the membership gets them. However most of them treat this very lightly and they rarely attend the meetings. some notable members have not even attended even a single meeting last year.

Some MPs too busy for House panels

It is not just the question hour and other proceedings in Parliament where MPs are founding missing. Attendance at parliamentary standing committees -- bodies that vet the functioning of union ministries -- is another indicator of how serious our parliamentarians are about their work.

An annual audit for 2007-08 of the functioning of standing committees during the last Lok Sabha reveals shocking details, with many MPs earning the dubious distinction of not having attended a single meeting in the entire year.

Screen queen-turned-politician, Jaya Prada Nahata, who triggered a virtual war in the Samajwadi Party over her renomination from Rampur, did not show up for any of 26 meetings of departmentally-related standing committee on information technology. Harish Nagpal and Rubab Sayeda kept her company in the ``completely missing'' list. In contrast, MPs like CPM-discard Abdullakutty and Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre attended 23 meetings each, a feat of sorts by current parliamentary standards.

This sorry pattern is repeated in the attendance records of all the 12 major committees which met regularly between August 2007 and 2008 to oversee the working of union ministries.

Ironically, there is a scramble among MPs to be on important standing committees since a seat on these panels gives them leverage with officials. The meetings are hardly an austere affair, with the ministries and public sector undertakings required to foot the bill for tours of members who are invariably lodged in luxurious places and have fleets of cars at their disposal.

These ``incentives'', however, are not enough for a few. For instance, Janardhan Waghmare skipped all 13 meetings of the agriculture committee, as did former Union minister Arun Shourie who was a member of the defence panel. Likewise, RLD's Anuradha Chaudhary and Nandkumar Chauhan did not show up at any of the 14 meetings of the committee on energy during the year. BSP's Kailash Nath Singh Yadav was marginally better, having attending one meeting.

Attendance at the urban development panel was just as bad, with V K Malhotra, Avtar Singh Bhadana, Pappu Yadav and Babulal Marandi skipping all 17 meetings. The committee, however, also had Surendra Motilal Patel who was present throughout.

Salim Shervani and Damodar Barku Shingada were not part of any of the 15 discussions of the committee on external affairs, while Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi could spare time for just one meeting.

Congress's Rajesh Mishra turned up for two of the 30 meetings of the committee on finance. In the food, consumer affairs and public distribution committee, which met 15 times during the year, Baliram Kashyap came for two and Suresh Angadi for three meetings.

The labour committee met 20 times but Dhan Singh Rawat couldn't make himself available even for one meeting while Renubala Pradhan and Chowdhury Mohd Aslam each showed up twice.

In contrast, there were many MPs who chose to be part of the discussions at the agriculture committee. In the 13 meetings in 2007-08, CPI's Prabodh Panda attended all. Harish Rawat and Rajasekara Murthy attended 12, Girdharilal Bhargava came for 10 and Manoranjan Bhakta for nine.
The defence committee saw K S Manoj attend 36 of the 38 meetings.

The chemicals and fertilizers committee met eight times. MPs from UP - Ajit Singh and Afzal Ansari ^ did not come for any while Punnulal Mohale made himself available for one. Satish Chandra Mishra and Sudam Marandi skipped all 11 discussions of the petroleum and natural gas committee while A K S Vijayan came for one.

The rural development committee met 24 times and George Fernandes did not turn up for any of them while Hannan Mollah came for 22.
 

sob

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Monday Blues

MPs suffer from Monday blues

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had to suspend the Question Hour on November 30 when as many as 34 MPs were found to be absent when she called their names during Question Hour. It has now emerged that a record number of 216 MPs did not show up in the House on that particular day which was a Monday.
Most of the absentee MPs on November 30 argued “that they had not expected more than six or seven questions to be taken up during Question Hour, a reason they kept away from the proceedings”. The Lok Sabha MPs’ attendance record, however, shows that their attendance is generally low on Mondays, while it improves as the week progresses.

The only other Monday in the current session so far (November 23) which began on November 19 saw as many as 188 MPs, the session’s third highest, being absent.

If the average MPs’ attendance in the House leaves much to be desired, there are, however, MPs who have a 100 per pent attendance in the House — in the ongoing as well as previous session. As many as 88 MPs, including Milind Deora, Sandeep Dikshit, Nirmal Khatri (all Congress); Shahnawaz Hussein, Anant Kumar Hegde, Yashodhara Raje Scindia (all BJP); Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan (JD-U); Jayant Chaudhary (RLD); and M B Rajesh (CPM), have reported 100 per cent attendance in the current session. In the previous Budget session (of the 15th Lok Sabha), there were 72 MPs who were present on all 26 days.

Vijaya Shanthi (TRS), Jaya Prada (SP), Anjan Kumar Yadav (Congress), Ravindra Kumar Pandey (BJP) and Kirti Azad (BJP), on the other hand, are among those having the poorest attendance record in the ongoing session. They have been present for just one day, while being absent on nine days, according to the records updated till December 3.
 

sob

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Absentisim down this Monday

Seems that the pressure from the media and the resultant public scrutiny seems to be working.

Question Hour absentees down to five on Monday

The question hour in Lok Sabha went off smoothly Monday with just five MPs, who had given notice to ask questions, remaining absent.Proceedings during question hour had collapsed Monday last week because of absentee members.
 

ppgj

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Half of Lok Sabha MPs did not participate in any debate

New Delhi, December 25, 2009


The Parliament House when MPs attended the first day session of the 15th Lok Sabha in New Delhi. According to a study, less than half of the MPs participated in any debate. File photo

For every hour when parliament is in session, the government spends nearly Rs.14 lakhs (Rs. 1.4 million) of tax payers’ money. And just imagine how much the state exchequer must have lost during the just concluded winter session when there was not a single 100 percent productive day with full attendance?

An analysis of the winter session of the 15th Indian parliament done by PRS Legislative Research, a unit of the Centre for Policy Research, shows that 48 percent of Lok Sabha MPs didn’t participate in any debate. The productive time in the lower house was 106 hours - only 76 percent of what had been scheduled, due to repeated disruptions.

“On six out of 21 days (of the session), the Lok Sabha met for less than two hours and of 26 bills planned for passage, only 14 were actually passed,” the analysis says.

Sample this: On Nov 26, when the Lok Sabha debated price rise only 26 of 545 MPs were present in the house. By the time Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar finished replying to the discussion on the soaring prices of essential commodities, five more members had left.

The lower house thus conducted an important business without even the mandatory quorum - at least 10 percent of its total strength.

The analysis of the findings by PRS Legislative Research points out that 25 percent of the MPs during the session “restricted themselves to one or two debates”.

“Only three percent participated in more than 10 debates.”

And there were many MPs, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who didn’t ask even a single question. Ditto for Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav, Jaganmohan Reddy of the Congress and Shatrughan Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The attendance of MPs was also worrying. The average attendance of the MPs during the winter session was 66 percent.

Only 15 MPs had full attendance and only 45 MPs attended more than 95 percent. At least 25 MPs missed half the sittings.

Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta did not miss a single day of parliament, a distinction shared by the Congress’s Eknath Mahadeo Gaikwad, Janata Dal-United’s Rajiv Ranjan Singh and CPI-M’s M.B. Rajesh.

Of the 440 starred questions in the Lok Sabha, only 131 were called. For 44 called questions, the respective MPs were not even in the house - a situation that led to the collapse of Question Hour on Nov 30 when 17 members were missing.

Only 87 questions were orally answered in the Lok Sabha.

In the Rajya Sabha, the average attendance was 68 percent. The lowest attendance was on Nov 30.

In the upper house, of a total of 460 questions admitted only 18 percent could be orally answered.

The cost of running parliament, including entire staff and logistics, perhaps comes to Rs.14 lakhs per hour, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said in parliament during a discussion on increasing the sittings of parliament.

The Hindu : News / National : Half of Lok Sabha MPs did not participate in any debate
 

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