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The monsoon session of Parliament begins; 27 deputies are positive for Covid

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There were no question hours; not good for members to come to the broadcast; there is no room for banners and banners; no visitors to the galleries looking enthusiastically at both houses to see democracy at work and the history being made. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were virtually unknown, wrapped in plexiglass and an air of grief as Parliament entered office on the first day of the monsoon session.

Melancholy was underlined by obituary announcements in both houses, which suspended work for an hour in memory of fallen comrades. These included former President Pranab Mukherjee, former Raghuvansh Rural Development Minister Prasad Singh, sitting Lok Sabha MP H Vasanthakumar (Kanyakumari), sitting Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, Beni Prasad Verma and MP Veerendra Kumar.

READ ALSO: The monsoon wind blowing for the government, with many opposition weapons missing

Everything was different. The only time MPs stood up was to remember those who had died. Points were lowered, and so were objections. In Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Choudhary said – while sitting – that democracy had been “stifled” because the question hour had been lifted. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said – while sitting – that the opposition had been consulted and agreed with the decision. This was one of the few cases where those who had died defending society from Covid-19 were paid homage. The soldiers, who had died defending the borders, were also reminded, something that does not happen routinely.

Surreal experiences would be followed. The new MPs took the oath of office in Rajya Sabha and those who were quite weak had to be helped by helpers dressed in white PPE suits and surgical rubber gloves, it looked like the figure from . Shibu Soren (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha) uttered his name, read his oath marked by long, trembling breaths, and was helped to return to his place by an aide to an almost audible relieving collective sigh. In Lok Sabha, Farooq Abdullah, 82, sat down looking grim, fair and challenging, this was his first appearance in Parliament since August 2019 when he was placed under house arrest.

It has become much of the “new normal”. No one was allowed to enter the Parliament House complex unless they could prove they were Covid negative. After testing, 26 MPs were found to be Covid positive, making many fellow MPs extremely nervous. Large gaps marked spaces between MPs and those sitting in the ground floor galleries had to speak loudly to be heard.

But the bills were passed super efficiently, even though opposition lawmakers said they were still early days. The National Commission on Homeopathy Law and the National Commission on the Indian Medical System Bill passed after a minimal debate in Lok Sabha, though members said more consultation should have been held. While defending the Bills, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan raised an issue to address the pandemic government. “With our effort to manage Covid-19, India has been able to limit its cases and deaths to 3,328 cases and 55 deaths per million, respectively, which is one of the lowest in the world compared to the countries affected in similarly, “he said. No one disputed this, which in itself was a record of sorts.

READ ALSO: Check out IRCTC short-term pain over its monopoly on Railways

In Lok Sabha, the government introduced agricultural reforms announced as ordinances, which will be converted into Invoices: Draft Law on Trade and Trade in Farmers ‘Products (Promotion and Facilitation), Farmers’ Agreement (Empowerment and Protection) on Price Assurance and Services of Bill Farms, and the Essential Goods Bill (Amendment). Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar, while assuring that the minimum support price system would stand, was furious to note that only 14 per cent of Indian farmers benefited from the MSP, given that 86 per cent owned less than 2 hectares. Fears of a slump in the MSP and interventions by the Center in an area that is the domain of state governments are driving the opposition furious.

In Rajya Sabha, in an effort to ease the mood, Mayor M Venkaiah Naidu joked that some members were sitting in Lok Sabha without being elected to it. The reference was to Rajya Sabha MPs sitting in Lok Sabha galleries because there was no space for everyone in the upper room.

In the background, however, was politics as usual. Today was the election for Rajya Sabha vice-president, and Janta Dal (United) Harivansh won against Rashtriya Janoj Dal’s Manoj Jha. YSR Congress and Biju Janata Dal, who may have been on the fence, announced they would vote for the National Democratic Alliance. One surprise was the Telangana Rashtra Summit (TRS), which decided to abstain, possibly at an independence show after the Bharatiya Janata Party announced its intention to revive its Telangana unit. Shiv Sena voted with the opposition but gave warm compliments to the man they decided to vote against.

How the session works for the remainder of the mandate should be seen. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejoiced today in making a brief statement, urging Parliament to unite to support soldiers who are standing in the bitter cold at the border. But he is expected to make a statement in the coming days on tensions at the Current Control Line (LAC) and then fur will fly. Outside Parliament, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh warned that Farm Reform Bills and other legislation, which undermines India’s federal structure, will be challenged. This is when gloves – or should we say, masks? – will be out.



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