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RS Can't Be a Showpiece, Opinion Relevant to Govt: Somnath

New Delhi
RS Can't Be a Showpiece, Opinion Relevant to Govt: Somnath
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

"Rajya Sabha cannot be a showpiece", veteran Parliamentarian Somnath Chatterjee today said taking a dig at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over his remarks dismissing it just as an "indirectly elected House".

Jaitley, who is also Leader of the Rajya Sabha, had remarked soon after the conclusion of the Budget session of Parliament that it is a serious question in a parliamentary democracy wherein the wisdom of a directly elected house is questioned repeatedly by the indirectly elected house.

"That is in desperation, he is saying. At present, they are facing difficulty in the Rajya Sabha... But you cannot steamroll the Rajya Sabha for all purposes," said the octogenarian Chatterjee, who was Speaker of the Lok Sabha during 2004 to 2009.

Chatterjee's reference was to the BJP not having adequate numbers in the Upper House and was finding difficult to get bills passed there despite enjoying a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha.

"Rajya Sabha cannot be a showpiece. Its opinion is also relevant to the government. Government should take note of the views," he insisted.

Jaitley had said that Parliament is facing one big challenge.

"I can understand in a bicameral house, once in a while an indirectly elected house questioning the wisdom of a directly elected house. This can happen once in a while, but it can't happen bill after bill, session after session."

"It's a serious question in a parliamentary democracy wherein bill after bill, the wisdom of a directly elected house is questioned by the indirectly elected house," the Finance Minister had remarked.

Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, which has a majority in the House, has been alleging that the government was bypassing parliamentary scrutiny by slipping in legislative agenda as a money bill. The latest row in this regard was over the black money bill.

Government managers are also on a counter-attack on the Opposition holding that it was applying breaks to the initiatives by delaying passage of bills by insisting them to be sent to the Standing Committee.

"The Rajya Sabha helps debating a bill a second time and it helps in getting important views. If the whole process is unnecessary, then what is the role of the Rajya Sabha," Chatterjee asked.

Noting that Jaitley was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha till a year ago, he recalled that then he was also "holding up" government proposals.

When asked about questions being raised in the Rajya Sabha over Sumitra Mahajan's decision of declaring the black money bill as money bill, he remarked, "I cannot make any comment on the Lok Sabha Speaker's decision. There should not be any controversy."

Chatterjee said a perusal of a bill will show whether a bill is a money bill or not.

To suggestions from members of the Upper House that there should be a set of guidelines for the Speaker to decide whether a bill is a money bill or not, he said, "I think guidelines are quite well known. There should not be any controversy as far as I understand. Whether any bill is a money bill or not, the Speaker's decision is final."

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