A meeting of party leaders will be called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar soon to elicit suggestions on how to schedule parliamentary sessions to ensure “a 100 days’ sittings.”

The Speaker has, on several occasions, suggested that Parliament be in session for at least 100 days a year, and at a meeting of party leaders called by her on Thursday, members agreed on this. They wanted to work out the modalities, which will be done at a separate meeting Ms. Kumar said she would call.

An important decision taken on Thursday was on the basis of a suggestion by Ms. Kumar that a heritage committee be set up with a technical committee of architects, historians and other experts to help it to ensure that the architectural beauty and character of the Parliament House is not damaged irreversibly.

It was agreed by party leaders that a joint parliamentary committee be set up in consultation with the Rajya Sabha Chairman for this purpose. All major political parties are expected to be represented on the committee.

It was discussed that “not a nail” be hammered into the structure of the building anywhere without the permission of the heritage committee once it is set up, most likely during the winter session that starts on November 19.

Ms. Kumar said she expected the winter session to be a “stormy affair,” with leaders indicating that they want to raise the issue of price rise; agricultural problems, including farmers’ distress due to drought and floods; farmers’ agitation on sugarcane price; and internal security issues, especially naxalism. No one apparently mentioned the recent Karnataka turmoil.

The Congress was represented by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and the Bharatiya Janata Party by Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joined the others for lunch hosted by the Speaker following the hour-long meeting.


All set for an action-packed session November 19, 2009

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