Make Time

In the last six years, lot of changes were effected in the way J&K legislates, debates the public issues, agrees and disagrees on the floor of the House. The governments have taken recourse to security in hiding the information on key public issues. Over the years, the custodians are increasingly scanning the queries and deciding whether or not the government should respond to them.

The house would remain frequently paralyzed. In 2006, the crises triggered by the disagreement over an issue, resulted in passage of grants of 15 vital departments aggregating to Rs 5138 crores without any debate or formal reply. Another day, it managed introduction of 42 bills and six others for consideration and passage – all that in 40 minutes. In 2007, the coalition government managed the passage of appropriation bill worth Rs 18,443 crores and demand of grants of all the departments in less than half an hour. As the new coalition took over, the standards of records was pushed up a bit more. The first session in Kashmir triggered a huge crisis forcing Omar Abdullah to resign “conditionally”. The next summer session was devoured mostly by ‘raising fingers’. The third session last summer was consumed by plain vandalism by the Congress over BJP’s cash for vote as the show was dominated by the death in custody of a NC fixer. Though the government managed its business, issues of public importance never got an opportunity. Opposition has been consistently accusing the treasury benches of not permitting them the time they deserve.

At one point of time, the Deputy Speaker resigned and it took many months to get him back to accept the berth, for the sake of democracy. Comparatively, the Jammu sessions remain smooth. In all these years, the number of days per session were reduced. This was despite the demands that for at least 100 days the houses should be in session so that the government responds to issues of public importance. Budget session is again round the corner. Preparations are afoot to have a smooth session. Assembly secretariat has already convened a meeting of all the stakeholders. Lawmakers whose salaries have been doubled last year have already submitted the queries for which they want answers, a bit of debate and lot of news. Some of them have drafted bills on various issues which they would like the house to enact.
There are very crucial issues that are facing J&K on socio-economic and political front.

The expenditure strategy of the governments, its job linked policies, the developmental priorities, corruption and the human rights, there are countless issues that need to be debated in the house and explained to the people. Obviously the treasury benches will have to be patient and explain their position especially in wake of the crisis that dominates the coalition. Opposition needs more time so do the lawmakers who are not holding berths in the council of ministers. The government is expected to permit all this in its first year past its half life.

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