Many lawmakers have conveyed that their first priority is work in their constituencies to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, according to those in the know, and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla are not in favour of permitting regular meetings of the various department related standing committees and other panels till the situation returns to normal.
This comes close on the heels of the decision to turn down the request from some opposition leaders who are chairpersons of various parliamentary committees to hold meetings of these panels through video conference. The Rajya Sabha chairperson and Lok Sabha Speaker turned down the plea as the rules state that the meetings of these panels are held in-camera and the proceedings are not made public.
Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi told ET that the parliamentary panels are bound by a “confidentiality clause” and the details of what transpired in the sitting cannot be disclosed.
Asked if regular meetings would be scheduled as the lockdown draws to a close next week, Joshi said, “Though the Speaker and the chairman of Rajya Sabha have to decide on the regular meetings of these committees, it is not advisable to hold them in the present circumstances. The first priority of all MPs as well as officials is dealing with Covid-19. There is no question of fixing dates for these regular meetings and no circular has been sent out.”
Naidu had held telephone conversations with 241 MPs (four others were not available) in the past few days.
Most of the lawmakers were in their constituencies and were engaged in providing relief and food to the needy, said the people cited earlier.
As for the opposition demand to discuss the ministry of home affairs’ decisions, the status of migrants, the state of the economy and other issues, a senior BJP leader said during the last budget session when Covid-19 discussion was to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha, Trinamool Congress and Nationalist Congress Party had protested.
“Health minister Harsh Vardhan made a six-page statement on the issue while 18 members spoke in the House,” the BJP leader said, adding that the matter can be discussed in the monsoon session by which time the situation is likely to return to normal.
Asked if the monsoon session, which normally begins in the last week of July, will be convened on time or delayed, Joshi said, “The parliament session is far off. I am hoping it will begin on schedule.”
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