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Day two of parliament’s winter session was frustratingly predictable. Both the houses adjourned until Monday without discussing important bills. As lawmakers shouted slogans and rushed to the centre of the assemblies to pressure the speaker and the government on contentious issues, it felt like past instances of protests in various state assemblies across the country.
- Lawmakers in state assemblies have a penchant for picking up microphones, tables and chairs and throwing them at the speaker or their opposing colleagues. In December 2011, Congress lawmakers in the state of Odisha’s assembly nearly flung a chair at the speaker, ironically while protesting the state of law and order. In February 2009, legislators hurled microphones and paper balls at the speaker in Uttar Pradesh state assembly over the murder of a government official. This was déjà vu – the same scenes had occurred in 1997 as well.
- Perhaps the most innovative way of stopping a bill from becoming law happened in the Rajya Sabha, or the upper house of parliament (they call it India’s house of elders). One lawmaker from Bihar, Rajniti Prasad, rose from his seat in the winter session last December, walked up to the minister who was reading from the draft of the much-debated Lokpal anti-corruption bill, snatched the papers in his hands and calmly tore them up.