An eight-day monsoon session of Karnataka legislature will begin on Monday under the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic, amid unprecedented safety measures and restrictions, as several Ministers and legislators have tested positive for the infection.
The session is likely to be stormy with the Opposition eyeing to corner the B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government on a host of issues, including management of the pandemic, which has affected over 5.11 lakh people in the state.
Principal opposition Congress has also decided to raise issues such as the D J Halli violence, drugs scandal, law and order situation and the state''s financial situation during the session, slated to end on September 30, Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri has made it mandatory for all, including members, officers, staff and journalists, to undergo RT-PCR test for COVID-10, seventy two
hours prior to the start ofthe session.
COVID negative certificate has been made compulsory for entry into both the Houses at the Vidhana Soudha here.
According to the legislature secretariat, both the assembly and the Legislative Council would meet at 11 am.
The session had to be convened before September 23 in view of the Constitutional provision that the legislature has to meet at least once in six months.
The budget session was cut short andadjourned sine die on March 24 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak with the state reporting 41 positive cases and one death at the time.
As of September 19, cumulatively 5,11,346 COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed in the state, which includes 7,922 deaths and 4,04,841 discharges.
As part of preventive measures in the legislature, seats of members are separated by transparent shields.
Attendees will also have to wear face shields and follow the preventive measures for coronavirus.
While public will not be allowed entry, the press gallery has been shifted to the second floor.
Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan on Saturday joined the list of Ministers who have tested positive for COVID-19. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Food and Civil Supplies Minister K Gopalaiah were infected earlier last week.
Several legislators from both treasury and opposition sides have also tested positive.
There are 10 new bills, 19 ordinances and two bills pending from the previous session that are likely to be taken up during the session.
Pointing to this, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah said the time fixed for the session will not be enough and it needs to be extended.
The senior Congress leader and former chief minister is likely to raise it during the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting slated for Monday morning ahead of the commencement of the session.
The party has alleged corruption in procurement of medical equipment, and is likely to raise the issue on which both the opposition and the ruling BJP have locked horns in the past.
The session is taking place at a time when there is speculation in some quarters that the BJP central leadership is mulling to replace 77-year-old Yediyurappa, considering his age.
Mr Yediyurappa, meanwhile, is awaiting the high command's nod to go ahead with the expansion or reshuffle of his Cabinet, despite fears of possible disgruntlement, with too many aspirants and limited ministerial berths.