Monsoon session: It is raining losses in parliament

By Sarwar Kashani, IANS,

New Delhi : The government spends Rs.7.65 crore for each day of a parliament session, and with the first five days of the ongoing monsoon session being washed away due to unending opposition protests over rising prices, this translates into a loss of Rs.38.2 crore ($8.5 million) for Indian the taxpayer, to go by official figures.

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Consider this:

The total budget of the two houses of parliament and the ministry of parliamentary affairs for 2010-11 is nearly Rs.535 crore. In a year, parliament meets thrice, for the budget, monsoon and winter sessions. In the past five years (2005-2009) there have been an average of 70 sittings per year. That means the expenditure for each day of a session is nearly Rs.7.65 crore.

Though parliament’s establishment works round the year, the expenditure per day has to be worked out according to the number of sittings because the entire staff, logistics and any other expenses are there solely for the institution to conduct its legislative business. Otherwise, there would be no need to have parliament and its sprawling office and secretariat.

The budget (figures available on for the current financial year the Lok Sabha has listed:

* Rs.67 lakh for speaker and deputy speaker

* Rs.93 lakh for leader of opposition and his/her secretariat

* Rs.171 crore for 545 members

* Rs.175 crore for Lok Sabha secretariat

* Rs.29 lakh for secretariat of chief whips of different political parties

* Rs.87 lakh for other expenditure

The provision for speaker, deputy speaker and leader of opposition is for their salaries and allowances. For MPs, it includes their salaries, allowances and expenses on account of facilities, their visits abroad and foreign parliamentary delegations visiting India.

The provision for the Lok Sabha secretariat includes salaries of the staff and officers, establishment related needs, subsidy for canteen and expenditure towards the Lok Sabha TV channel.

Similarly, the budget for the Rajya Sabha includes:

* Rs.72 lakh for chairman and deputy chairman

* Rs.88 lakh for leader of opposition and his/her secretariat

* Rs.75 crore for 250 members

* Rs.96 crore for the secretariat

* Rs.17 lakh for chief whips of parties

* Rs.61 lakh for other expenditure

This apart, the ministry of parliamentary affairs that is responsible for the functioning of the institution has a separate budget of nearly Rs.8.5 crore.

Now, when the first week of monsoon session has already been wasted, the exchequer has suffered an irreparable loss of Rs.38.2 crore.

Opposition parties for the fourth consecutive day Friday continued to force the adjournment of both houses of parliament, marking the end of the first week of the monsoon session with no real business conducted due to demands for a discussion on rising prices as an adjournment motion that entails voting.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has already rejected their demand but an adamant opposition has refused to allow the parliament to function till a discussion followed by voting is held.

Apart from government papers being laid on the previous four days, the only business transacted was the approval of president’s rule in Jharkhand.

Twenty-four sittings of the monsoon session have scheduled, of which five have been lost, leaving 19 more.

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shahnawaz Hussain put the blame on the government for the disruptions in the monsoon session.

“We are fighting for the common man. The government is adamant. It is our duty to wake up this arrogant government. We will continue to press for it,” Hussain told IANS.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) member M.B. Rajesh said “the government is the main culprit”.

The government dismissed the opposition actions as a “hoax”.

“This protest is a mere hoax, to show people that they are fighting, to gain media attention,” Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi told IANS.

“These disruptions don’t help. This is violation of democracy. Democracy is about agreement and disagreement not about threatening,” Ravi added.

(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at [email protected])