Data shows Lok Sabha productivity fell from 93% in 2009 to 46% in 2013 before rising after 2014, when NDA came to power.
New Delhi: Disruption of parliamentary proceedings has been the bone of contention in recent years, with the Narendra Modi government accusing opposition parties of not allowing it to transact legislative business. The data on disruptions since 2010, however, tells a different story.
It shows that there were far more disruptions, in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, during the second term of the UPA government (2009-2014), when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in opposition.
As per data provided by PRS Legislative Research, Lok Sabha’s productivity fell from 93 per cent in 2009 to 46 per cent in 2013, before showing a spike after the NDA government came to power in 2014. It even rose to the highest, during this period, of 97 per cent in 2015, under the NDA.
The average productivity between 2009 and 2013 (2014 would have seen both in power) was 65.2 per cent. In three years (2015, 2016 and 2017) under the NDA, the average is 90 per cent (see graph).
The relatively smoother proceedings in the Lok Sabha since 2014 could, however, be attributed to the fact that the treasury benches far outnumber the opposition benches, with the BJP winning 282 seats in the 543-member House. The ruling NDA had 336 Lok Sabha MPs in the 2014 elections.
But even in the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is in a minority, data shows increased productivity post-2014.
The RS productivity was 102 per cent in 2009 but dipped sharply to 58 per cent in 2013. It rose to 75 per cent in 2014, after the NDA assumed power, and has hovered around this mark since.
A reflection of politics outside
The Parliament’s productivity data, in fact, reflects the political disruptions outside.
From 2010, a series of alleged scams surfaced, pertaining to the Commonwealth Games, allocation of 2G spectrum and coal blocks, purchase of VVIP helicopters, and allotment of flats in the Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai.
The then opposition parties, especially the BJP, went after the UPA government in Parliament demanding resignations of ministers and a chief minister, resulting in washouts of many sessions.
Taking a cue from the opposition parties’ tactics when it was in the government, the Congress has sought to turn the table on the NDA government, frequently disrupting proceedings in Parliament. But the numbers show that it isn’t as effective as the BJP and its allies.
Vijay Goel, Rajya Sabha MP and MoS, Parliamentary Affairs, however, said that it is because of the BJP’s culture, to take the opposition along, that the Lok Sabha is more productive now than during the UPA’s tenure. “We believe in building consensus on bills and issues. We take the opposition into confidence while bringing new business into the House. We explain to them the issues in detail. And we also try to get the non-controversial bills cleared at the earliest,” the minister said.
Manish Tewari, former minister and Congress spokesperson, commented on the data, saying, “The entire 15th Lok Sabha was wiped out by those who are in government now in an irresponsible and immature manner. Putting the blame is easy but the data speaks for itself. It shows that we are far more responsive and responsible in opposition when it comes to running the house.”