Maintain 50% attendance: VP to parties

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu speaks during the 'First Arun Jaitley Memorial Lecture' organised by Delhi University in New Delhi, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (Twitter/PTI Photo)

With Parliament's Monsoon Session just three weeks away, Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday urged parties to ensure attendance of at least 50% MPs throughout the day.

Delivering the first 'Arun Jaitely Memorial Lecture on Strengthening of Parliamentary Institutions in the Country' at Delhi University here, he also emphasised that Parliamentary form of government is one of the features of the basic structure of the Constitution and it was beyond the power of Parliament to be amended as per the settled position.

The alternative of Presidential form of government is no option by virtue of the same, he added.

He also underscored the need for governments to be responsive to the concerns of the Opposition and the Opposition to be responsible and constructive during the debates and while criticising the government and opposing legislation. 

"Frequent disruptions, Points of Order without a point, adjournment motions and interruptions betray political immaturity, exhibitionism, excessive fondness for the limelight and inadequate appreciation of the need to utilise the opportunity of serving the public interest," he said.

Raising concern over the poor attendance in the legislatures and the quality of debates, Naidu said that the parties should ensure attendance of at least 50% of their legislators all through the proceedings of the Houses by adopting a roster system. 

His suggestion came against the backdrop of Parliament being forced to be adjourned due to lack of quorum.

Referring to the issue of 'Whip' that sometimes makes lawmakers to toe party line despite being opposed to it, Naidu suggested that there is a need for a review of this so as to enable "reasonable degree of dissent without impacting the stability" of the government. 

He also wanted a thorough review of the anti-defection law to rectify grey areas like incentivising legislators to resort to actions inviting expulsion from the party besides providing for time bound disposal of defection cases.

He said that the existing 'First Pass The Post (FPTP)' system is faulty to the extent that MPs and MLAs are being elected with substantially less than 50% of voter support but there is no alternative to it at present.

The proportional representation being advocated in some quarters would lead to promotion of further social and political cleavages besides being not practical due to implementation issues, Naidu said.

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