The Parliament’s 18-day Monsoon Session will begin on Monday with strict coronavirus-related protocols in place. The Opposition is likely to raise the dismal gross domestic product figures and the growing India-China tension in the Parliament.
Ahead of the session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated MPs for choosing “duty” despite Covid-19 risks. “Parliament session is beginning in distinct times,” he said. “There’s corona and there’s duty. MPs chose the path to duty. I congratulate and express gratitude to them. This time Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha will be held at different times in a day. It will be held on Saturday-Sunday too.”
Modi also referred to the tensions at the India-China border and said: “I believe that all members of the Parliament will give an unequivocal message that the country stands with our soldiers.”
The prime minister assured that his government will not rest until a vaccine is developed to fight the infection. “We want that a vaccine be developed at the earliest from any corner of the world, our scientists succeed and we succeed in bringing everyone out of this problem,” he added.
This will be the first Parliament session to take place amid the coronavirus crisis. The precautions implemented for the session include different timings for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, with seating arrangements to ensure physical distancing.
“There will be a four-hour session for each House each day [9 am to 1 pm for Rajya Sabha and 3 pm to 7 pm for Lok Sabha],” the Centre said in a statement. “But on the first day only, the Lok Sabha will meet in the morning session.” The sittings will also take place on the weekends.
The Centre added: “The session will see other measures like seating MPs in a staggered way in chambers of both Houses, as well as galleries to maintain physical distancing norms, introduction of mobile app for registering of MPs’ attendance and seats separated with poly-carbon sheets in the House.” The Zero Hour will be cut down to half and unstarred questions will be laid on the table while the Question Hour has been done away with.
Ahead of the session, over 4,000 people, including MPs and staff were tested for the coronavirus, according to PTI. On Sunday, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu chaired a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee. Unidentified officials told The Hindu that he agreed to allow a debate on the economic situation and the border standoff with China.
The government said that it will take up a total of 47 items during the session, which includes 45 bills and two financial items. Eleven bills, including the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Second) Amendment Bill, 2020 and the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020, will replace the ordinances issued in March.
The government is also likely to introduce new bills on labour laws, provident fund, insurance, maternity benefits and industrial safety and welfare.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the government is prepared to discuss all the matters and urged political parties to cooperate during the session, The Hindu reported. “Considering the sensitivities of the Indo-China matter, a meeting of leaders from both Houses will be held on Tuesday,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha MP and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah will also attend the session, PTI reported. This is his first visit to New Delhi after the Centre’s revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August last year.