The winter session of the Parliament concluded on December 13, 2019. Both the houses passing the landmark Citizenship (Amendment Bill) may evidently remain as the defining moment. Beyond that, this session can be remembered for many other elements. Let’s count some of them.
Productivity a new normal
The first session of the 17th Lok Sabha had set the benchmark really high in terms of productivity. This winter session has also ensured that the productivity of both the Houses attains not less than the 100% mark.
The productivity of Lok Sabha was approx. 116% and that of Rajya Sabha was approx. 100%. The Lok Sabha passed 14 Bills while the Rajya Sabha passed 15 Bills during the session. 15 Bills were passed by both the Houses of Parliament and would become Acts of Parliament.
Justice for the weaker sections
While the passing of Citizenship Amendment Bill makes a larger point of India being committed to its civilizational ethos, it must also be noted that the major beneficiaries of this law will be the weaker sections, most of them belong to SC/ ST communities.
Among other things, the government also ensured that the bill to extend SC/ST reservation in legislatures by another 10 years also passed in this session.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 passed in this session, defines a transgender person and provides for protection of rights of transgender persons and their welfare.
Congress stood for ‘the family’
When the winter session began, the issue that was prominently raised by Congress related neither to economy nor administration. The whole brouhaha of Congress was about the withdrawal of Special Group Protection to the family of Sonia Gandhi. That simply showed the priorities of Congress. The amendment to SPG act, which Congress opposed in-vain, has now made this protection exclusive to the Prime Minister and in case of former PM for the period of five years since the person demitting the office. The debate over this bill has arguably dented the image of Congress further as the Home Minister vividly described how ‘the family’ has abused the SPG facility when it was given. You may read more in our earlier article On SPG Debate, How Amit Shah Blew the ‘Cover’ of Congress with Many Facts and One Suspense!
End of entitlement culture
Some bills passed in this session have also indicated a shift in terms of values as well. No surprise that they came as shock to a certain section. For example, the amendment bill on Jallianwala Bagh Memorial is a signal that the culture of entitlement will no longer be promoted in this country. One may feel awful about the reason Congress had opposed this bill, which was passed anyhow. The amendment led to the removal of the President of the Indian National Congress as a permanent Trustee in the Jallianwala Bagh war memorial trust, which the party had opposed. How can a political party can claim that it should remain as trustee in any of the organisation of national importance? Is this not democratic on the part of the government to provide an opportunity for the single largest opposition party to be a Trustee of a national memorial?
Even in the matter of SPG protection also, the argument of Congress was that the Sonia Gandhi family should be treated as per with the PM whether they are in power or not. Otherwise, what is the point of arguing that only SPG cover which is originally meant for PM should be given to this family, though they are adequately given ‘Z-plus’ with advance security liaison and ambulance that will be given across the country?
Parties who Put Nation-first
Providing a dignified life for minorities who were persecuted on religious lines through citizenship was seen as an ideological commitment of BJP. Nevertheless, many parties within NDA and outside of it have supported the bill. BJD, AIADMK, JDU, YSR-Congress, SAD are the parties worth mentioning in this regard. Congress, Communist parties, AAP, TMC, SP, JDS, Muslim League etc have opposed the bill.
Addressing the Rajya Sabha on the occasion of 250th session, PM Narendra Modi cited the example of BJD and NCP for their decision not to enter the well of the House and appreciated them saying that all including his own party should learn from such discipline.