With proceedings in Parliament often remaining paralysed over some issue or the other, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar convened an all-party meeting to discuss measures for a smooth functioning of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The Winter Session is due to start on November 9.
The need for an effective floor management in both Houses of Parliament was stressed at the two-hour long meeeting which was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Speaking to reporters after the deliberations, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said, "finally it was decided that parties-- be it big or small-- should decide on their own that they should not disrupt Parliament proceedings.
"If opposition and the treasury benches take the responsibilty of their own parties then the House can run smoothly," she said. Swaraj reminded that during the monsoon session, a disagreement between the government and the opposition over an adjournment motion on price rise had led to proceedings being stalled for five days.
Kumar's initiative to reach out to all political parties came in the backdrop of a 'mock' Parliament held in Lok Sabha by some opposition parties during the Monsoon session that came in for a strong criticism. "I had convened a meeting earlier on August 25 to discuss the ways and means so that there are no disruptions and forced adjournments of the House. Since the meeting remained inconclusive, a fresh meeting has been called today," Kumar told reporters ahead of the meeting.
Besides the Prime Minister, Leader of Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee, BJP veteran L K Advani, Union Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Sharad Pawar were among others who attended the meeting. The meeting was also attended by CPM's Basudeb Acharia and CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta. There was no representation from Lalu Prasad's RJD and the Trinamool Congress.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, who left the meeting midway, said that while there was an agreement that the House should run smoothly, it should also be a medium to solve people's problems. "A consensus is now emerging".
Sources said Yadav complained to the Prime Minister that many a minister in the government do not come on phone when members try to apprise them of issues and problems of people relating to their ministries. Yadav also raised the issue of salary hike of MPs's saying had the government created an outside meachanism to decide the revision of the salary of members, the situation like the 'mock Parliament' that arose in the previous session could have been avoided, sources said.
The JD-U chief is learnt to have stressed that Government should be pro-active in ensuring a better floor management to ensure that the working of Parliament is not disrupted frequently and argued that such things will continue to happen if there is "communication gap" between the government and the opposition. He said that such issues can be resolved only through better coordination and not by any resolution.
Yadav is learnt to have expressed concern at "neglgible" coverage of Parliament proceedings and news in media and urged the Prime Minister to do something in this regard.
Sources said that CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta expressed dismay at frequent interruptions in the House when any member raises some issue.
To a question on demands by some political parties to hold a one-day session and later a deferred session in view of Bihar Assembly elections, she said as of now, she would like to focus on the "important subject" on hand. When asked whether more such meetings would be held, Kumar said "if there is need and leaders of various parties feel, similar exercise can be carried out".
A meeting of the floor-leaders has also been convened by Kumar on the opening day of the winter session to ensure that the month-long session was a smooth affair.
At the last meeting of leaders of political parties, several of them had regretted the 'mock' Parliament. Kumar had also made known her disapproval of frequent disruptions during the monsoon session over the issue of deciding modalities for holding discussions on price rise.