National

Lok Sabha official tests positive for COVID-19

Three days after a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee held in the Parliament premises and chaired by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, an Additional Secretary from the Lok Sabha Secretariat who attended the meeting tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The meeting was attended by 15 MPs.

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Non-BJP parties have been demanding holding committee meetings via video-conference fearing such a situation since the Budget session of Parliament ended on March 23.

Officials said the meeting was held adhering to social distancing norms, with all the members sitting at least six feet apart. However, the Lok Sabha Secretariat, as a precaution, has asked all the members who attended to go into self-quarantine and to get tested in case of any symptoms.

Apart from Mr. Chowdhury, BJD MP B. Mahtab, JD(U) MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh and DMK MP T.R. Baalu, all the other members were from the BJP, including senior leader Bhupendra Yadav.

“Ok so I came to Delhi. Attended Parliamentary Committee meeting on 10th. Turns out one staff of the Committee secretariat has tested Covid positive today. So I am headed to seven days quarantine,” BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar tweeted.

This is set to have a domino effect on other committee meetings scheduled for the rest of the month. Chairperson of the Labour Committee B. Mahtab, who also attended the meeting, told The Hindu that he too is going into quarantine. His committee was to meet on Wednesday, but that meeting stands deferred for now.

Mr. Mahtab said it was essential that the Lok Sabha Secretariat to investigate as to how a person with COVID-19 was allowed to attend a meeting. “The confidentiality clause should be waived allowing for the meetings to be held virtually. In anticipation of the approval from the rules committee, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha Speaker can waive off the secrecy norm. I am sure no one will oppose it. It is not as if everything that we discuss is a confidential matter,” Mr. Mahtab told The Hindu.

However, according to sources, several BJP MPs have written to both the RS Chairman and the LS Speaker against holding the meetings virtually.

Chairperson of Finance Committee and BJP leader Jayant Sinha also attended the meeting. The Finance Committee is scheduled to meet on July 28. “I am currently in quarantine and will get myself tested in a few days. If I am negative then we will go ahead with the meeting on July 28,” Mr. Sinha said.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 6:34:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lok-sabha-official-tests-positive-for-covid-19/article32083404.ece

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