14th Lok Sabha made news - for many wrong reasons and a few right

February 26th, 2009 - 9:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeNew Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) With lawmakers pulling out wads of currency notes in parliament, charges of bribes being taken by MPs in return for asking questions, noisy scenes and fewer sittings than ever before, the 14th Lok Sabha that ended Thursday will go down in history for many wrong reasons.
But it will also be remembered for the aplomb and impartiality with which Speaker Somnath Chatterjee held the office, even if it meant being expelled from his own Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

On Thursday, he bade adieu to his 39-year-old political career, announcing that he will not contest the general elections expected in April-May.

In an unusual situation, the house also saw a pre-election interim budget being presented in the absence of the prime minister, with Manmohan Singh recuperating after a coronary bypass surgery. He could not attend the last session and sent a message.

Several controversies dogged the 14th Lok Sabha.

Chatterjee said in his farewell speech Thursday: “I will only be betraying my emotions if I do not refer to what I would painfully call certain aberrations and avoidable situations during the life of the 14th Lok Sabha which has somewhat lowered the esteem of this august institution in the eyes of the people.”

Thanks to frequent adjournments and interruptions, the house wasted 423 hours and spent over 1,738 hours in actual sittings. Chatterjee said: “The time wasted due to disorderly scenes amounted to about 24 percent, which is alarming.”

The 332 sittings of the present Lok Sabha, according to official records, were fewer than ever.

An infuriated Chatterjee had last week pulled up MPs for kicking up a ruckus in the Lok Sabha and even said: “You don’t deserve any allowances.” He accused them of “burying democracy in the country”.

The house witnessed expulsions and suspension of members on charges of corruption as well as for creating trouble.

Nine MPs were disqualified for cross voting during the July 22 trust vote that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government faced over the India-US nuclear deal. It was during the confidence motion that some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs pulled out wads of currency notes alleging bribery.

Ten members were expelled on charges of asking questions in the Lok Sabha in return for money. The speaker had to appoint several committees to inquire into the misconduct of MPs. One MP was charged in an emigration racket and arrested.

The Lok Sabha passed as many as 258 pieces of legislation, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the National Investigation Agency Act, and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

In his message to the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday thanked leader of the opposition L.K. Advani for his constructive approach and said: “We collectively addressed national challenges in spite of occasional disagreements.”

Praising the speaker, Manmohan Singh said: “The office of the speaker has been truly elevated and dignified. History would be the best judge of your unique contribution.”

-Indo-Asian News Service


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