India's ruling Congress party urges end to Parliament quagmire

Indian disabled people hold placards as they assemble at India Gate during a protest in New Delhi, on Feb 3, 2014. India's ruling Congress party on Monday, Feb 3, 2014, urged the opposition to allow major bills to be passed in the last session o
Indian disabled people hold placards as they assemble at India Gate during a protest in New Delhi, on Feb 3, 2014. India's ruling Congress party on Monday, Feb 3, 2014, urged the opposition to allow major bills to be passed in the last session of a Parliament, which is set to go down as the least productive in history. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's ruling Congress party on Monday urged the opposition to allow major bills to be passed in the last session of a Parliament, which is set to go down as the least productive in history.

The current Parliament, which was elected in 2009, has passed a record low of 165 bills in its five-year-term, with bad-tempered outbursts and protests forcing frequent adjournments.

"The 15th Lok Sabha (Lower House) has faced disruptions like never before," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told a news conference. "We urge the opposition to support the government in smoothly running the last session of parliament so that important bills can be passed."

The final session of Parliament, which begins on Wednesday, is due to wrap up on Feb 21 ahead of a general election due by May.

As many as 126 bills are pending in Parliament, including 72 in the Lok Sabha once the chamber is prorogued.

Among the legislation still pending is a Bill to set quotas for the number of women lawmakers and a series of anti-corruption measures.

Also due for consideration is a Bill giving millions of disabled equal rights, including to education and employment.

Thousands of disabled people protested in the Indian capital on Monday, demanding parliament pass the long-awaited legislation.

But according to Mr Shreya Singh of the Delhi-based PRS think-tank, there is "little possibility" of any major bills getting passed in the upcoming session given "its recent history of disruptions".

The Times of India slammed both the government and the opposition for parliament's failure to deliver, reflecting a growing political divide in the lead-up to elections.

"Legislators are elected to make laws. By not doing so, they fail in their primary duty and waste public money," it said in an editorial on Monday.

"The government and opposition will be quick to try and blame each other, but this represents a collective failure on the part of our MPs."

Congress is lagging badly in opinion polls ahead of the election, with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party expected to win most seats in the 552-member Parliament.

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