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Azad urges Opposition to attend meetings

Special Correspondent

"Parliament does not belong only to the ruling party"

NEW DELHI: The Government on Saturday said that it could not figure out the reason behind the Opposition's decision to boycott Parliament in the second half of the budget session and reiterated its preparedness to discuss any issue on the floor of the House.

Appealing to the Opposition to take part in the meetings of the department-related standing committees during the inter-session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said he hoped that members belonging to the Opposition parties would come in full-strength during the monsoon session.

"Parliament does not belong only to the ruling party. If any political party boycotts proceedings, it does not enhance the prestige of Parliament. I earnestly appeal to the Opposition to take part in the meetings of standing committees during the inter-session and attend the monsoon session in full strength,'' Mr. Azad said addressing a press conference at the end of the budget session.

Besides Mr. Azad, Suresh Pachauri, B.K. Handique and Congress Chief Whip Pawan Bansal were present.

26 Bills passed

Mr. Azad said the current session witnessed maximum work compared to the past five years. Both Houses had 38 sittings this year, which was the second highest after 40 sittings (Lok Sabha) and 38 sittings (Rajya Sabha) in 2002. The current session saw 26 Bills being passed by both the Houses, which was a record after 34 Bills passed in 2002. During other years, the number varied between 6 (2004) and 22 (2003).

Similarly, there were 54 statements made by Ministers in the Lok Sabha and 44 statements in the Rajya Sabha this year — the highest in the past five years. Both Houses also discussed 14 calling attentions, a record after 16 calling attentions in 2003.

In all 35 Bills, 26 in the Lok Sabha and nine in the Rajya Sabha, were introduced in the budget session and 26 of them, including the Patents (Amendment), Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment), Right to Information, Coastal Aquaculture Authority, Special Economic Zones and Credit Information Companies (Regulation), were passed.

Phukan report

As regards the decision of the Government to table the Phukan Commission report on the last day, the Minister said it was a promise made by the Leader of the Lok Sabha after the Speaker asked the Government to do so. He wondered why the Opposition boycotted the proceedings after demanding the tabling of the report.

SMS for MPs

Mr. Bansal said the Government could have extended the session had the Opposition sought time to discuss the report of the commission.

Mr. Azad said that starting with the monsoon session, members would get information on parliamentary business on their mobile phones through a short message service.

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