Opposition demands all-party meet on conducting Monsoon Session

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 19, 2020

The Centre is looking at ways to hold the monsoon session of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in September   -  PRAKASH SINGH

Centre must consider holding a virtual session of Parliament in the context of Covid-19 pandemic, say parties

The Opposition has reiterated its demand that the Centre must consider the possibility of holding a virtual session and urged it hold an all-party meet to take a decision in this regard.

The Centre is looking at ways to hold the monsoon session of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in September and travel restrictions for senior citizens may impact travel plans of many senior MPs, the opposition leaders said.

‘Consult opposition’

Congress Parliamentary Party secretary and senior MP Kodikkunnil Suresh said neither the government nor the secretariat of both the Houses has held any discussion with the Opposition parties on the issue of convening the session.

“We do not know if they have made the arrangements based on the Covid-19 protocol. The Government and the secretariat must convene an all-party meeting on the preparations for holding Monsoon session,” Suresh said.

BJP chief whip in Rajya Sabha Shiv Pratap Shukla said the BJP leadership will take a decision soon after discussions within the party on the Monsoon Session.

He said at present party has not received any communication on the dates of the session.

CPI(M) leader in Rajya Sabha Elamaram Kareem said he will talk to leaders of other Opposition parties. “The Government was not ready to convene virtual sessions of even Standing Committees. We will consult other parties to build an opinion on the possibility of holding virtual session of Parliament,” Kareem added.

Hybrid format

BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said session can be held through a hybrid system keeping the quorum inside the House and rest of the members participating through video conferencing. “The available technology can be utilised. Respective parties and whips should be asked to accommodate members inside the Chambers as per the strength. A number of Parliamentary democracies are functioning like this. Maldives, Britain and Australia have done this,” Mahtab, who wrote to Speaker Om Birla recently on these issues, said.

He said to members should be allowed to mark their presence electronically. “If there’s a will, there’s a way. Keeping in mind of Health Ministry’s guidelines, I had asked for virtual meeting of standing committees too. Quota should be fixed based on the number of members for each party. The only problem would be that disruptions may have to be done away! Session will be productive,” Mahtab added.

Published on August 19, 2020

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