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Winter session: TMC MP Derek O’Brien gave 6 challenges to the BJP government

Derek O’Brien on Parliament Winter Session: Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien has presented an open challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi (PM Narendra Modi) and the BJP government during the winter session of Parliament. TMC MP has put this challenge before the government through an article in ‘The Indian Express’. Derek O’Brien writes in his article that the Parliament Winter Session started from Wednesday. BJP has a sufficient majority in the Lok Sabha. They can easily get majority in Rajya Sabha. The numbers are in his favor, but does he have the guts to raise even one of these issues in the ongoing winter session of Parliament?

In his article, the TMC MP has presented not one or two but six challenges to the BJP government. He has questioned the government regarding the fulfillment of all these demands. TMC MP Derek O’Brien has always been an attacker against the NDA government at the Centre. Let us tell you through which six challenges the TMC MP has attacked the government this time.

1. Women’s Reservation Bill

TMC MP has challenged the government to pass the women’s reservation bill in the winter session. The Women’s Reservation Bill, he said, seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. Has been introduced several times since 1996, but has failed to become an act. Versions of the Bill were introduced in 1998, 1999 and 2008. It was passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, but lapsed after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha and the formation of a new government. In its 2014 manifesto, the BJP declared women “nation builders” and a “commitment to 33 per cent reservation for them in Parliament and state legislatures”. He asked the BJP government to bring the bill in December 2022. (Even without the Women’s Reservation Bill, 36% of TMC’s MPs are women).

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2. Appointment of the Deputy Speaker in the Lok Sabha

In his article, the TMC MP has demanded the government to appoint a deputy speaker in the Lok Sabha. He said, Article 93 of the Constitution states that the Lok Sabha should elect two members of the House as Speaker and Deputy Speaker at the earliest. In the 15th Lok Sabha, M Thambi Durai was elected as the Deputy Speaker on the 71st day. It has been 1,273 days (3.5 years) since the Lok Sabha does not have a Deputy Speaker. The Deputy Speaker is not subordinate to the Speaker. In fact the Speaker has to hand over his/her resignation to the Deputy Speaker, if he/she wishes to do so. BR Ambedkar, by opposing the proposal of handing over the resignation of the Speaker to the President, emphasized the importance of this function of the Deputy Speaker and keeping the Speaker independent of the executive.

3. Discussion on burning issues

He demanded the government to accept 267 notices from the opposition for a discussion on burning issues during the winter session. Rule 267 gives Rajya Sabha MPs an opportunity to suspend regular business and give written notice to discuss any important issue. The last such notice was accepted in November 2016 (Hamid Ansari was the chairman) on the issue of demonetisation. Can you believe it, 267 notices have not even been allowed for six years? The opposition demanded discussion under Rule 267 on many issues like price hike, farmer’s movement, Pegasus etc., but to no avail.

4. PM to answer a question in Parliament

He said that the PM has to answer a question in Parliament. The Prime Minister has not answered a single question in the Rajya Sabha since 2014. The last time a question was answered in the Rajya Sabha by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was in 2016. Since 2014, the PMO has answered seven questions. In contrast, 85 questions were answered in the Rajya Sabha by the PMO under Manmohan Singh from 2004-2014. Our prime minister is such a wonderful orator. Opposition MPs like me will be happy to see that he will answer our questions. Now he comes on Thursday morning for full 15 minutes.

5. Compliance with the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy

Derek O’Brien called for the government to follow a pre-legislative consultation policy. By 2021, 75 per cent of the bills introduced in Parliament were introduced without any prior consultation. Of the bills put up for consultation, 54 per cent did not adhere to the 30-day consultation period mandated by the legislative pre-consultation policy (2014). Important legislation like the Right to Information (Amendment) Act 2019, the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Act 2019, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021, three draconian Agriculture Bills in 2020 were introduced in Parliament without any consultation. Having numbers in Parliament does not give the government a license to escape public scrutiny. Will BJP ensure that every bill introduced in this winter session is kept for prior public consultation for 30 days?

6. Let the Parliament function till the appointed day

The TMC MP said that in the last seven sessions of Parliament, the Houses have been adjourned on an average five days before the scheduled date. In December 2020, the government cited the pandemic as the reason for proroguing Parliament, while the real reason for doing so was to avoid accountability for the draconian farm laws that were repealed. Parliament meets for less than 100 days in a year. The Rajya Sabha last sat for more days than that in 1974. Since the year 2000, the number of sittings of Lok Sabha per year has come down from an average of 121 days (1952-1970) to 68 days per year.

In 2019, I introduced a private member’s bill to amend the Constitution to provide for a fixed calendar for three sessions of Parliament and a minimum of 100 sitting days in a year for each House. Will BJP bring a fixed calendar for Parliament and make it mandatory to run for 100 days (or more) annually? TMC MP asked that Prime Minister, will you accept the challenge?

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