NEW DELHI: A unique session of Parliament will get underway on Monday with
sitting with plastic sheet separators and microphones on podiums in visitors’ galleries, where
do not have mikes, while the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha main chambers will have a “proportionate” representation of political parties, including their leaders.
This is the first time in the history of Indian Parliament that both chambers have been integrated for holding a session.
Political parties have been allotted a certain number of seats in the main chambers and visitors’ galleries and it is up to them to nominate which of their MPs sit where. It may, however, not be a taxing problem as attendance may well be patchy as proceedings begin.
Motions on question hour may pit government against opposition
The immediate business are two medical related bills in Lok Sabha while the upper House will see the election of a deputy chairperson, with JD(U)’s Harivansh expected to canter home as the NDA nominee against RJD’s Manoj Jha, who is the candidate of Congress and some other non-NDA parties.
The Parliament secretariat has facilitated MPs with the option to mark their attendance digitally through an app —Attendance Register — developed by the NIC.
There will be 18 continuous sittings till October 1 during which 45 bills, two financial items and 11 ordinances are to taken up. There will be obituary references to the late Pranab Mukherjee, India’s 13th President, after which the two Houses are expected to function though opposition parties plan to submit a host of adjournment notices on various issues. Both Houses will sit for four hours each every day without weekend breaks.
The two Houses are to take up motions to allow them to run without question hour and discussion on private members’ bills which should draw protests from the opposition that an important part of Parliament is being scuttled. BJP managers have said answers to unstarred questions will be submitted and various state assemblies have also adopted similar practices.
Parliament had last met for the budget session from January 31 to February 11. It was curtailed after an MP reported sick due to Covid-19 and raised concerns over the people he may have interacted with.
Health minister Harsh Vardhan will make a statement on the Covid-19 situation in both Houses. Presiding officers will be dealing with MPs in a rather different way given the use of masks and face shields. It remains to be seen if the usual “rushing into the well” takes place as this is bound to violate social distancing norms.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla took stock of health and security measures on Sunday and instructed officials to provide sanitisers to every employee posted at the building gates. “All MPs and their family members have undergone Covid-19 test before the session and they have been given kits of sanitisers, masks, gloves and other health-related material,” Birla said after seeing the preparations.
There will be sitting arrangements for 257 members in the Lok Sabha chamber and 172 MPs in the Lok Sabha galleries. Arrangements have been made for 60 members to sit in the Rajya Sabha chamber and 51 members will be seated in the galleries.
Seats have been allotted in proportion to strengths like 32 of the 51 Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha chamber.