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MPs quarantined after Parliament staff test positive for Covid-19

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 14, 2020 Published on July 14, 2020

Demand increases for virtual meetings of the Parliamentary Standing Committees

Some MPs had to be quarantined after a staff member of Parliament, who attended a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, tested positive leading to a fresh demand for virtual meetings of Standing Committees. Ruling BJP MPs also raised concerns about the need for physical presence during departmental Standing Committee meetings.

BJP MP in Rajya Sabha Rajeev Chandrasekhar went public with the disclosure that he was going into quarantine. Chandrashekhar said he had attended a Parliamentary Committee meeting on July 10 and it turned out that one staff of committee secretariat has tested Covid-19 positive.

“So I am headed to seven days quarantine,” Chandrasekhar tweeted.

Senior Congress MP and Jairam Ramesh expressed concern about Chandrasekhar.

“Sorry to hear about this Rajeev. Take care. This means you will not make it for the committee on data security on (July) 17th that has been called at three days’ notice?” said Ramesh.

Ramesh said he will again write to Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on the importance of holding virtual meetings of the Standing Committees. Ramesh, who is also the Chairman of Standing Committee on Science and Technology, had told BusinessLine in an interview recently that virtual meetings should be the norm during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ramesh had written three letters earlier to Naidu demanding virtual meetings of the Parliamentary Standing Committees but the Secretariat had turned down the request.

Senior BJD leader and Chairman of Labour Standing Committee Bhartruhari Mahtab said he also attended the meeting cited by Chandrasekhar and is in home quarantine as per the protocol. He said a meeting of Labour panel, scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the social security code, has been postponed.

Mahtab said it is high time that the confidentiality clause in holding the panel meetings are re-looked and Parliament should look into hybrid models of holding the meetings.

“I don’t understand how someone who had Covid-19 symptoms could attend the meeting. I have decided to postpone Labour panel’s meetings under these circumstances,” Mahtab said. Mahtab had written to Speaker Om Birla urging him to change the protocol of holding standing committee meetings.

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Published on July 14, 2020
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