No All-Party Meet Before Parliament Session, Key Panel Meets To Set Agenda

Parliament Monsoon Session: The session will have Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha working in separate shifts and there will be special seating for MPs to ensure distancing.

Monsoon Session of Parliament will start from September 14. (File)

Highlights

  • Business Advisory Committee will today discuss the agenda for the session
  • Government has been firm on its decision of not resuming Question Hour
  • This is the first session after 20 soldiers were killed in June in Ladakh
New Delhi:

The traditional all-party meet before a parliament session has been scrapped for the monsoon session, which begins tomorrow. The departure from convention - probably a first in two decades -- is seen as indication of the growing differences between the opposition and Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla. 

The Speaker has called a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee, which began at 11 am today, to discuss the agenda for the session that concludes on October 1. Among those attending the meeting are Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, BJP's Arjun Ram Meghwal, Congress's Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi.

In today's meeting, issues such as the abolition of Question Hour and the curtailing of Zero Hour are likely to be raised. The government has stood firm on its decision of not resuming the Question Hour, which has generated much resentment among the opposition MPs. 

A decision on the discussion on the Indo-China stand-off, the contraction in economy and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic will be issues the opposition is expected to raise. 

The government has to decide whether it will agree for these short-duration discussions without voting. In 2017, citing national security, the government had refused to speak on Doklam. 

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Parliament was adjourned indefinitely in March, days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

This is also the first parliament session being held after 20 soldiers were killed in the line of duty in Ladakh, amid clashes with China. The fatality at the Line of Actual Control - the de facto border between the two nations - in June is a first in four decades and the government may find it difficult to avoid a discussion on the issue. 

Ahead of the session, all the members of parliament were requested to get themselves tested for COVID-19. The pandemic has cast a shadow over the monsoon session, with at least seven union ministers and two dozen lawmakers recovering from COVID-19. Around 200 of the 785 MPs are above the age of 65 years, the population vulnerable to coronavirus. 

The session will have Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha working in separate shifts and there will be special seating for MPs to ensure distancing. Lok Sabha will sit from 9 AM to 1 PM on the first day and from 3 PM to 7 PM till October 1. Rajya Sabha will sit from 3 PM to 7 PM the first day and 9 AM to 1 PM the rest of the days. Weekends will be working days.