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Lok Sabha: Monsoon session curtailed amid deadlock on Pegasus, farm laws

Lok Sabha was on Wednesday adjourned sine die, two days ahead of schedule, bringing to an end a tumultuous Monsoon session that was disrupted every day by opposition protests over the Pegasus snooping allegations and farm laws.

Lok Sabha: Monsoon session curtailed amid deadlock on Pegasus, farm laws
File Photo

New Delhi

As many as 19 bills, including the one on withdrawal of all back tax demands on companies such as Cairn Energy and Vodafone, were passed in the din, while a brief thaw was witnessed on Tuesday when the crucial Constitutional amendment bill that will allow states to make their OBC lists was approved. 

Lok Sabha functioned for only 21 hours during the entire Monsoon session and its productivity was at 22 percent. The House held 17 sittings. 

Since the start of the session on July 19, members from the opposition parties rushed to the Well of Lok Sabha every day, raising anti-government slogans and displaying placards while demanding a debate on the Pegasus snooping row and the repeal of three farm laws. 

Addressing the media after Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die (for an indefinite period), Speaker Om Birla said running the House was a "collective responsibility" and members holding placards and raising slogans in the Well of Lok Sabha was not in accordance with parliamentary traditions. 

Birla said he was "extremely hurt" and voiced hope that parties will, through consensus, ensure that members follow the rules strictly and maintain the dignity of the House. 

"I am pained with the continuous disruptions of the House. I don't have words to express my anguish over the ruckus in the House... I am extremely hurt," the Speaker said. 

The Question Hour, where members get an opportunity to put queries to ministers, witnessed disruptions on most of the days. 

The session was in sharp contrast to the last Budget session when the Lower House saw 114 percent productivity. 

Unlike previous sessions, the proceedings did not continue till late in the night due to the logjam. 

On day one of the session, IT and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw made a statement over media reports on the alleged use of Pegasus software to snoop on Indians, saying the allegations levelled just ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament were aimed at maligning Indian democracy. 

In his suo motu statement in Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said that with several checks and balances being in place, “any sort of illegal surveillance” by unauthorised persons is not possible in India. 

Back-channel talks between the government and the opposition to end the stalemate over the Pegasus issue did not fructify. 

Opposition members created a ruckus and prevented Prime Minister Narendra Modi from introducing his newly-inducted Union ministers to the House. 

The prime minister said he was expecting members of the House to show enthusiasm by thumping their desks as a large number of those from the Dalits, Scheduled Tribes and OBC communities as well as sons of farmers and those from economically backward and rural backgrounds have become ministers in the recent rejig. 

"However, probably, some people did not like that people of such background have become ministers and that is why they are now conducting themselves with such behaviour," the prime minister said. 

Amid the deadlock, the House also could not take up a discussion on coronavirus pandemic. The Lok Sabha order paper listed the discussion for several days, but it could not be taken up. 

The House also could not take up private members'' business on Friday evenings, in which MPs table their bills and move resolutions. 

For the first time since the Monsoon session of Parliament began, Lok Sabha witnessed a debate in an orderly manner on the constitutional amendment bill on OBC list as the opposition members put on hold their protest on Tuesday and voiced support for the legislation cutting across party lines. 

After Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die on Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and floor leaders of various other parties met the Speaker in his chamber over tea.

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