Upcoming Parliament session’s plan ready

The Parliament house in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

Staggered timings, a two-hour break for disinfection, and working weekends — the Union government’s plan to hold the first ever Parliament session during the COVID-19 pandemic is ready, a senior leader said on Tuesday.

Deputy Leader of the Lok Sabha and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is learnt to have reached out to senior Opposition leaders, including Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, to brief them about the plans.

The plan is yet to be announced officially as some aspects are still being finalised. But to maintain distancing norms and spread out the Members of Parliament in both the Houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will have separate timings.

While the Rajya Sabha will transact business between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the first half, proceedings in the Lok Sabha will start at 4 p.m. and will go on until 8 p.m.

The two hour break, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., will be used to disinfect both the chambers.

To formally allow members of one House into the other, the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha may have to officially grant permission on the first day of the session.

Other important changes are also likely as the government plans to drop Question Hour — the one hour time alloted to MPs when they can raise questions related to different Ministries.

Though Mr. Chowdhury had written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to not curtail Question Hour and Zero Hour as it encroaches on an MP’s right, the government may not agree.

Trinamool leader Derek O’ Brien had also strongly demanded having the Question Hour, Zero Hour and Calling Attention Motion, which allows MPs to have longer discussions on important issues.

However, Zero Hour — when an MP can raise any urgent issue on the floor of the House — may be allowed.

The monsoon session of Parliament that usually gets underway by the third week of July was postponed because of COVID-19 and will now start on September 14.

The upcoming session will have 18 sittings, which includes two working Saturdays and Sundays each, and will end on October 1.

Opposition leaders, including Mr. Chowdhury and former finance minister and Rajya Sabha member P. Chidamabaram had also written to the presiding officers of both the Houses to allow virtual participation along with physical sittings.

But the Secretary Generals of the Houses cited technical capacity limitations, not enough time, and difficulty in providing simultaneous translation online, to reject such a demand.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 8:43:52 PM |

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