Ahead of monsoon session of Parliament, government calls all-party meeting on July 17

The government has called an all-party meeting on July 17, while the presiding officers of the two Houses will also meet the floor leaders of various parties

July 13, 2022 06:06 pm | Updated 08:56 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

File photo of the Parliament House in New Delhi.

File photo of the Parliament House in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The government has called an all-party meeting on Sunday ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu will also be meeting the floor leaders of the respective Houses. The Opposition parties, hit by the dwindling support for their presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha, have decided to regroup and are likely to have a strategy meet on Sunday.

According to sources, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has telephoned several opposition leaders calling for a meeting on Sunday immediately after the government’s all-party meeting. The recently announced military recruitment scheme Agnipath will be the front and centre of the Opposition’s attack on the government. The Opposition has consistently asked the government to roll back the scheme.

Presidential poll

The election for the President will be held on the first day of the session on July 18. This will also be the last session for Mr. Naidu in his current term, which is ending on August 10. The election for the Vice-President’s post will be held on August 6. So far, both the ruling BJP and the Opposition have not named their candidates. The government is confident of winning both the elections with sizeable margins.

It will also see the rearranged opposition equation in the Rajya Sabha. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is now the fourth largest opposition party in the House along with the DMK. There will be no member from the Akali Dal and only a single member from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The opposition leaders though have very little confidence in utility of the meetings called by the government and the Presiding Officers.

“The Union government will not allow a discussion on any people-centric issue in Parliament. They run scared. They make a mockery of Parliament. So these pre-session meetings are a sham,” Rajya Sabha Parliamentary Party leader for Trinamool Congress, Derek O’ Brien, told The Hindu.

Periodic rituals

RJD leader Manoj K Jha echoed similar views. “Over the years, these meetings have been reduced to periodic rituals. The agreements that the Opposition and the government arrive at these meetings are rarely implemented during the session. If these meetings are to acquire a gravitas then there should be a connect between what transpired in the meeting and what finally happens inside the House,” Mr. Jha said.

DMK MP Tiruchi Siva said these meetings were called by the government to apprise the Opposition of its agenda and to hear about the Opposition’s concerns. But both of these aims haven’t been fulfilled. The government Bills are pushed at the last minute without keeping the Opposition in loop. “In the past, our demands to send key legislation like the farm Bill to a Parliamentary Select Committee was ignored. So one definitely is skeptical about the utility of such meetings,” Mr. Siva said.

Senior AAP leader Raghav Chadha, who makes his debut in the Rajya Sabha, put the onus of running the Parliament on the government. “I fundamentally believe that it depends entirely on the treasury benches to run the House by valuing the voice of the Opposition. The majority margin should not come in the way of listening to the Opposition,” he added. Mr. Chaddha said the AAP would seek explanation from the government on Agnipath and highlight the plight of farmers on the Pakistan border in Punjab.

Lok Sabha Speaker Mr. Om Birla has convened the meeting of floor leaders on Saturday, while Rajya Sabha Chairman Mr. Naidu will meet the floor leaders of various parties on Sunday.

The session will meet under COVID-19 protocol, with members occupying the visitors’ gallery to maintain the physical distancing norms. Accordingly, no visitors will be allowed.

The Rajya Sabha secretariat has also issued a circular that no maiden speech should exceed the 15-minute limit. The circular comes in the backdrop of 57 new members, while, many of them are returning members, there are still a significant number of first-timers. The monsoon session of Parliament begins on July 18 and will continue till August 12.

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