The Monsoon Session of Parliament, the penultimate session of the current Lok Sabha, ended on Friday with the government deferring bringing the ‘triple talaq’ Bill in the Rajya Sabha because of lack of consensus and Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu expunged remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House that were found to be "objectionable".
Members said they couldn’t remember the last time remarks made by a prime minister had to be expunged by the chair. The PM had made the remarks on Thursday while referring to the opposition's candidate B K Hariprasad for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman. “PM refers to the prime minister of this great nation. ‘PM’ also refers to a ‘panchayat member, from where political activists begin their political career. Even a panchayat member would be ashamed of the language PM Modi used against me personally,” Hariprasad said.
At a protest at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the premises of Parliament, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi led the Congress party to demand a joint parliamentary committee, or JPC, probe in the Rafale fighter jet deal. Congress MPs in the Rajya Sabha also raised the demand.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the session was more productive than the previous two sessions – the curtailed Winter Session and the Budget session. The session had 17 sittings. The Parliamentary Affairs Ministry said the productivity of the Lok Sabha was 118 per cent and that of the Rajya Sabha 68 per cent. The session also witnessed a debate and vote on a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha and the election of the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
The day, however, began on a sour note when the Congress boycotted the breakfast hosted by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu in the honour of new Deputy Chairman Harivansh, in protest against the passage of bills amid a din in the Upper House on Thursday. Congress members were shouting slogans to demand a JPC when a bill to establish a National Sports University in Manipur and the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill were passed.
In the Rajya Sabha, the combined Opposition scored a minor political point in the evening. It demanded a vote on a private members’ resolution moved by Samajwadi Party’s Vishambhar Prasad Nishad. The resolution sought an amendment to the Constitution for equal treatment of SCs and STs across the country.
Social Justice and Empowerment minister Thaawarchand Gehlot requested Nishad to withdraw the resolution, but the member demanded voting and division. Deputy Chairman Harivansh asked the lobbies to be cleared for the voting to take place, but union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad argued that there was no precedent of voting taking place on a private members’ resolution.
However, Harivansh, on his first day as the deputy chairman, consulted rules to state that the provision was such that the chair’s order cannot be withdrawn once it has called for a vote. The vote was negatived and the Bill defeated with Opposition members shouting slogans that the government was “anti-Dalit”.
According to a government statement, it introduced 22 Bills in the two Houses – 22 in the Lok Sabha and 1 in the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha passed 21 Bills and the Rajya Sabha 14.
Key Bills passed by both Houses were – amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act, Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, a Bill to give statutory status to the National Commission for Backward Classes, a Bill to amend the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2018 and amendments to the Goods and Services Tax. The government also withdrew the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill.