Public perception of MPs, MLAs is a matter of concern: Naidu

PTI, PANAJI | 13 October 2014 22:45 IST

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today said the public perception about the functioning of our Parliament and state legislatures is a matter of concern.

“Public perception about the functioning of our Parliament and state legislatures is a matter of serious  concern,” Naidu said inaugurating the two-day All India Whips Conference in South Goa.

“Credibility of these vital institutions is eroding for various reasons including criminalisation of politics, rise of money power, decline in number of sittings, repeated disruptions and adjournments, questionable conduct of some legislators inside and outside the Houses, etc,” he said.

“This cannot go on like this. It is time we strive for a change in the way we operate our sacred institutions of democracy,” he said.

MoS for Parliamentary Affairs Santosh Kumar Gangwar and chiefs and whips from various states were also present.

The tax payers’ money is used for running our legislatures, but the number of sittings per year has been steadily declining, he lamented.

“During the first 37 years since the first general elections in 1952 (from the 1st Lok Sabha to the 6th), there used to be more than 100 sittings each year,” Naidu said.

“The 1st Lok Sabha still holds the record of 132 sittings per year. During the 6th Lok Sabha, the average sittings per year were 108. For the first time, this fell below 100 during the 7th Lok Sabha (1980-84).

“Out of the 15 Lok Sabha terms, 10 have run full course. Of these 10, during the 14th and 15th Lok Sabhas, the average annual sittings have been lowest at 67 and 71 per year, respectively,” he pointed out.

The scenario of annual sittings is even worse in case of state legislatures. “For example, the Haryana Assembly is reported to have met only for 56 days in five years (2009-14), which means about eleven days per year,” he said.

The minister suggested this conference should consider stipulating  a minimum 40 sittings per year for small states,70 for other states and 100 days a year for Parliament.

The problem of declining number of sittings is further compounded by frequent disruptions and adjournments with the Houses not transacting any business for days, Naidu said.

“One of the prime functions of legislature is to ensure accountability of permanent executive through various means, including the Question Hour. It is depressing to see that disruption of such an important window of Parliamentary oversight has come to become a routine way of political expression. This has serious implications,” he said.

MoS for Parliamentary Affairs Santosh Gangwar said the responsibility of parliamentarians to maintain decorum increases because people now watch them on television.

“The number of days of Assemblies and Parliament have been decreasing. But in the new age, the responsibilities of elected representatives have increased,” Gangwar told the gathering of whips.

“People are watching you on television. The live telecast of Parliament or state Assembly sessions is being done. Due to this, there is discussion about performance of each representative…people want us to be responsible and they analyse our performance,” he said, adding that several parliamentarians do not have the habit of sitting throughout the session.

It is the responsibility of chief whips and whips to discipline their colleagues, Gangwar said.

“There were some instances of indiscipline in the recent past which I don’t want to discuss. But we have to know that even children are discussing about our conduct after watching us on television,” he added.

The two-day 16th All India Whips Conference will culminate tomorrow with the passing of resolutions about the conduct of parliamentarians.

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