Free Press Journal

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan says her focus is legislative work


Sumitra Mahajan

New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who has been in the past accused of bias by Congress while conducting business of the House, today said her pitch for carrying out maximum legislative work could have been misconstrued by the opposition. “Parliament is for enacting legislation. Government is interested that business is conducted and the House goes on… Opposition may think that I am helping the government, but it is not the case”, Mahajan, who will be completing one year in office next month, told PTI.

Congress had earlier this month raised concern over the impartiality of the Chair in the Lok Sabha.  The charge came after Mahajan had allowed Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal to make a statement on the cancellation of a food park in Amethi on May 12. Congress members had created din questioning how the government was being allowed to speak on the same issue repeatedly, whereas their party’s requests for adjournment motions are rejected by the Speaker. The 72-year-old presiding officer of the Lok Sabha said Parliament will function more meaningfully if MPs see themselves as lawmakers and not only representatives of their constituency and thus understand the larger responsibility bestowed on them by the nation.

‘Tai’, as the Speaker is affectionately called, is satisfied over the Lower House creating a record of passing the maximum number of legislations in recent times in her first year as the Presiding officer. The preceding five years of the UPA-II had witnessed record disruptions in Parliament following opposition uproar over a range of issues and scandals. “There have been many a achievement, but they are not mine but the collective one with all sides cooperating”, she said. Mahajan has now plans to raise the level of the debate in the House through various means including by setting up a ‘support system’ that can help members to make a forceful and studied participation.

This, she said, is necessary at a time when the current Lok Sabha has record new members. Through support system,, the idea is that members could avail the services of experts and resource persons on the relevant subjects. The Speaker said that she is getting letters and emails expressing satisfaction over the working of the Lok Sabha as also the way debates are being held. In order to strike greater rapport with members, the Speaker has initiated a series of interactions with younger members seeking to understand their problems and concerns and to see how best they could carry out their responsibilities.

The Speaker said that in order to ensure greater participation of new members, she has resumed the practice of reading of urgent matters of importance through special mentions. For several years, the special mentions were being laid on the table. Her decision not to suspend the question hour has now been accepted by one and all as she has given an assurance that all those seeking such suspension would be given time in the zero hour to raise the issue concerned. A virtually uninterrupted question hour has helped members seek the maximum information from government on diverse issues.