Venkaiah Naidu’s VP tenure: RS productivity improves, key Bills passed

The Federal, August 08, 2022

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu demits office on Wednesday (August 10) after completing his tenure of five years. Jagdeep Dhankhar has been elected as India’s new Vice President. Naidu, who is ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, had many achievements and also the overall productivity of the Upper House increased.

He was sworn in as the 13th Vice President of India on August 11, 2017. He presided over 13 full sessions, with the holding of 261 sittings during the period as against the scheduled 289 sittings.

‘A testing experience’

During those 13 sessions presided over by Naidu, overall productivity of Rajya Sabha increased. The productivity of the House increased by 70%, attendance of the members increased, and a record 177 Bills were passed or discussed.

The productivity of the first five sessions has been in the range of 6.8% to 58.8%, while it substantially improved in six of the next eight sessions clocking productivity in the range of 76% to 105% with five sessions working for about 100% of the scheduled time.

A total of 936 of the 3,525 Starred Questions were orally answered. The utilisation of Question Hour during this period has been 41% of the scheduled time.

According to Naidu, 57% of the total sittings were disrupted partly or fully.

Fifty-eight issues were primarily responsible for disruptions and forced adjournments of the House during his period.

Last month, presiding over his last session, Naidu described his tenure as a “testing experience”.

“Since my assumption of office five years ago, we have so far gathered together for 13 full sessions and this is the 14th such occasion. This journey of five years has been quite a learning experience for me… Dealing with about 245 members of this august House from over 30 political parties with different minds, inclinations and political ideologies is quite revealing and even a testing experience.” Naidu said.

“During the last 13 sessions, 141 of the 248 scheduled full sittings, accounting for 57% of the total sittings were disrupted partly or fully,” he said.

“All of you would agree that this could have been better given our mission for the nation,” he told the MPs.

The details regarding the functioning of Rajya Sabha during the last five years during Naidu’s tenure and the functional evolution of the House since 1978 are contained in a publication titled “Rajya Sabha: 2017-2022 – An Overview”, which will be released on Monday (August 8).

During Naidu’s tenure, about 78% of Rajya Sabha members daily attended the House, going by their signing the daily attendance register. While about 3% did not do so, 30% members reported full attendance in different sessions.

Over the years since 1978, for which detailed data regarding the functioning of Rajya Sabha is maintained, the House has come to spend lesser and lesser time on its ‘Oversight’ function of ensuring the accountability of the executive to the Parliament primarily due to sustained low utilisation of Question Hour.

52 Bills passed in 2019

In the best legislative output per year during Naidu’s tenure, 52 Bills were passed in 2019, the highest in 36 years. The lowest ever annual productivity of 40% was recorded in 2018 and the second lowest of 58.8% in 2021.

On August 5, 2019, during Naidu’s tenure, Rajya Sabha gave the nod for the abrogation of Article 370 and also passed the Bill (Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019) to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

“A total of 58 issues have broadly led to disruptions and forced adjournments of the House either partly or for the full day during these 13 sessions,” the publication said.

On average, about 78% of the members daily sign the attendance register as required for the daily allowance to be paid, while 2.56% never attended the proceedings on a daily basis. About 30% of the members reported full attendance during different sessions.

An ardent advocate of promoting mother tongues and Indian culture, Naidu’s tenure saw a marked increase in the use of Indian languages in the proceedings of the Upper House.

Dogri, Konkani, Kashmiri and Santhali were used for the first time in Rajya Sabha since 1952 with simultaneous translation facilities provided by the RS Secretariat. Similarly, Assamese, Bodo, Gujarati, Maithili, Manipuri and Nepali languages were used in Rajya Sabha after a long gap.

When the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life across the globe, several imaginative initiatives were taken under Naidu’s leadership to enable smooth functioning of the Parliament, such as virtual presentation of reports by Parliamentary Committees.

A leader firmly rooted in Indian values, he discontinued several colonial practices such as the term ‘I beg to lay on the table of the House’ and replaced it with ‘I rise to lay…’. The outdated term ‘His Excellency’ was replaced simply with ‘Honourable Vice President’ to emphasise on India’s democratic ethos.

PM Modi pays rich tributes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the farewell to Naidu in Rajya Sabha on Monday (August 8). Modi paid rich tributes to Naidu.

Modi remembered many moments that were marked by the wisdom and wit of Naidu.

He recalled Naidu’s continuous encouragement to the youth of the country in all the roles he undertook in public life. “As our Vice President, you devoted a lot of time to youth welfare. A lot of your programmes were focused on Yuva Shakti”, the PM added. He noted that 25% of the Vice President’s speeches, outside the House, were among the youth of India.

Modi highlighted the wit and word power of Naidu. He said, “Your each word is heard, preferred, and revered… and never countered…. the one-liners of Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu Ji are famous. They are wit liners. His command over the languages has always been great.”

Modi also touched upon the love for the mother tongue of Naidu. He said, “One of the admirable things about Venkaiah Ji is his passion towards Indian languages. This was reflected in how he presided over the House. He contributed to increased productivity of the Rajya Sabha”.

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