27th September 2021

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Monsoon session: Day 1

The four-hour Monday session of Lok Sabha on the first day of the monsoon session was, in a way, dominated by the pandemic. Members arriving with masks in their rearranged seats to retain seats with physical distancing rules, and criticism from opposition members over the decision to eliminate Question Time to repeated reminders by President Om Birla of that the House meets in an “extraordinary situation”, the pandemic has hovered over the debates.

  • More than two dozen MPs from various parties have tested positive, sources confirmed. Lok Sabha’s secretariat declined to release details. Contrary to what he suspected, the participation seems to have surprised the secretariats of both Chambers.
  • At Lok Sabha, Birla expressed her satisfaction for the elaborate preparations and cooperation he received from MPs crossing party lines. “I am happy that a large number of MPs have come forward,” he said.
  • The sources said more than 300 MPs attended the process. When the House convened after suspending the session for an hour after death notices to deceased members, including former Speaker Pranab Mukherjee, the opposition sharply criticized the government.
  • As Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the decision to eliminate Question hour was to minimize “movement of officials,” House Congressman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the “arguments and justifications” cited for overturning it were “far from convincing.” He said: “Question hour is the very essence of parliamentary democracy … because it makes ‘responsive and responsible executive’.
  • Congressman Manish Tewari cited the book “Parliamentary Practice and Procedure in Parliament” by Mr. N Kaul and S L Sakhdher to stress that the House should unanimously agree to eliminate Question hour.
  • AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi also said Question hour was “essential to the existence of parliamentary democracy”.
  • The government argued that Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh have held talks with the opposition over the measure.
  • Zero Hour, reduced to half an hour, also saw the pandemic figure in many of the issues raised. BJP members Bhanu Pratap Verma (Jalaun) and V K Sreekandan (Palakkad) of Congress wanted to resume rail services, canceled during the shutdown, in their constituencies.
  • Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel called on the government to help students who cannot afford a laptop or tablet for online classes by improving DTH services in rural areas.
  • Shrirang Appa Barne of Shiv Sena has asked the Center to pay a GST fee in Maharashtra to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
  • In his detailed statement on the Covid-19 situation, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the battle against the virus was far from over and stressed the need for continued precautionary measures.
  • Regarding a Covid-19 vaccine, Vardhan said, “Worldwide, around 145 candidate vaccines are in preclinical evaluation and 35 vaccines are in clinical trials.
  • In India … more than 30 candidate vaccines, which are in different stages of development, have been supported. ” RS takes a step to eliminate question time.
  • In Rajya Sabha, opposition parties called on the government not to abolish Question Time and said challenging the government was the basis of democracy.
  • After Pralhad Joshi brought forward a motion to suspend the rules on Featured Matters and Private Members’ Business in Rajya Sabha, TMC chief Derek O’Brien, who tabled an amendment to the motion, said; ( question hour ) the heart of the democratic parliament; it is the only daily hour when the opposition questions the ministers ”. O’Brien said
  • Question hour had never been suspended “in ordinary session” before; “This only happened during the Chinese incursion in 1962 and possibly during the emergency,” he said.
  • Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that since “people do not have access or do not have the means to ask questions of a minister in parliament,” their representatives, parliamentarians, ask questions on their behalf.
  • Speaker Venkaiah Naidu said he too was looking forward to Question hour, but “we are meeting at extraordinary times”. At the end of Question Time, Naidu said: “… there have been several instances where this has been done. I do not want
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