India: Citizens offer recommendations for improving Parliament

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(Photo: Parliament Session Citizen Poll survey results for disrupted days)

LocalCircles, India’s largest citizen engagement platform, has announced the results of the largest survey on the winter session of Parliament. With over 19,000 citizens responding to the poll questions, it provides collective pulse of how common citizens feel about the winter session.

The winter session opened on 26 November 2015 and Parliament barely functioned with a total of four bills passed till two days ago. The last two sessions of Parliament - summer and monsoon sessions - were a complete washout. As a result, not a single bill was passed nor was any official business carried out.

The winter session has almost been a washout as far as the important reform bills go.

To effectively gauge what the common citizen feels about a paralysed Parliament, LocalCircles.com, the largest citizen engagement platform, carried out polls asking citizens questions about how the functioning of Parliament could be improved. Several suggestions came and a simple one was that the session should be extended by as many days as are disrupted. In all, 92 per cent of the citizens polled said this should be implemented.

Citizens also feel that the Opposition should be given time to present its issues and even bills. About 86 per cent of citizens wanted ‘Opposition Days’ in Parliament for this.

A massive, 97 per cent of citizens want Parliamentary procedures to be reformed so that disruption does not affect passage of crucial bills.

LocalCircles poll before the winter session had shown that the bulk of citizens are disappointed with the functioning of Parliament. And 92 per cent of them feel that it is affecting the economy at large. Around 94 per cent feel that it is also affecting the functioning of the government, emphasising thereby that it is the role of the government to make it functional. Below are the key suggestions by citizens:

  • The non-disruption hours where crucial bills can be passed and discussed should be maximised.
  • Opposition must be given clear days to drive and discuss the issues that it wants. On 'Opposition days' the agenda should be decided by Opposition parties for discussion; Opposition can introduce bills on these days.
  • Each day a specific time-frame shall be maintained for discussion of any new or urgent issues in concurrence with the Speaker. The Opposition could also be allotted a couple of hours at the starting or at the end of the day to put their views forward.
  • Joint session of both Houses could be held and bills being held up must be passed immediately to stop further loss of tax-payer money.
  • Laws should be made to avoid members from disturbing smooth Parliament working.
  • The Constitution should be amended, making it incumbent on all political parties to ensure that Parliament functions and transacts business at least for a specified number of days. Any party may be allowed to disrupt but it must be mandatory that the bills to be tabled must be tabled in the same session and no ‘pass’ should be allowed.

 

SOURCE: News Today, December 28, 2015, http://newstodaynet.com/nation/citizens-have-solutions-stop-session-washout