This session, Rajya Sabha completes only 21% of business

Times of India, December 21, 2014

The logjam over the conversion row that has ensured little work was transacted in the Rajya Sabha this week which has brought down productivity in the House to a measly 21%. In comparison, LokS Sabha transacted 105% of the legislative business that was planned.

Analysis by PRS Legislative Research revealed that while Lok Sabha functioned smoothly during Question Hour with nearly 20 questions being answered in this week, Rajya Sabha functioned only 1% of the allotted time with only two questions being answered.

Despite the poor performance in the Upper House the Modi government has little choice but to cool its heels till 2016 when a significant number of opposition members ? 73 ? retire. Of the 241 members in the RajyaSabha, 68 belong to Congress as compared to BJP’s 42.

While 10 members each retire in the next two years, it is only in 2016 that there will be any dent in the opposition numbers. Among opposition members 21 Congress members, six from BSP, five from JD(U), three each from CPM and SP and two from NCP will retire in 2016. Three nominated and three independent members will also hang up their boots in the same year. Others who will retire include BJP and allies?12 from BJP, three from AIADMK, two each from TDP, Shiv Sena and SAD.

The highest number of MPs set to retire in the next two years is from Uttar Pradesh, including 10 this year, 11 in 2016 and 10 in 2018. After 2016 the highest number of retirees will be 2018 when 67 members of the RS are set to retire.

Work has suffered in the Upper House in this session. For instance last week while Question Hour functioned in Lok Sabha for 77% of the allotted time, Rajya Sabha functioned for only 32% of the allotted time. While 63 questions were orally answered in Lok Sabha during the first three weeks, only about half (35 questions) were orally answered in Rajya Sabha.

The logjam has also seen sharp exchanges between the treasury and opposition benches, with finance minister Arun Jaitley slamming the opposition for displaying “arrogance of numbers.” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury responded in kind, “If the other House (Lok Sabha) is functioning, it’s because of the tyranny of majority.”

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