Some action today as Rajnath to address Parliament on LAC face-off; Modi exhorts MPs to give unanimous and strong message to soldiers
With nearly 30 MPs testing positive, dozens of others staying out for fear of catching coronavirus, visitors barred, the number of media persons restricted, and strict social distancing norms in place, the Monsoon Session of Parliament began on a subdued note on Monday.
However, there is hope of action on Tuesday, as Government sources said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh may address Parliament on the India-China border row on Tuesday. The Opposition has been raising this issue for weeks and the Congress has already given an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha to discuss this issue.
While the corridors of Parliament were nearly empty and canteens closed, not much action took place in both Houses, either on Monday. Around 200 of the 785 MPs are above the age of 65 years. This is the most vulnerable age group for coronavirus.
The LS was adjourned after paying tribute to former president Pranab Mukherjee. The RS also saw no firework and used voice vote to decide the elections to the post of Deputy Chairperson of the House.
In his customary pre-opening remark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoped that Parliament will send out a unanimous and strong message to soldiers on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that country was solidly standing behind its bravehearts. Modi, who was talking to the media on Parliament premises, asserted that sending an unambiguous message was “legislature’s crucial responsibility”.
Later, leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and party leader K Suresh gave adjournment notices over the issue of Chinese incursion in Eastern Ladakh. The Opposition wants the Modi Government to provide details on the border stand-off and a discussion on the issue. The Congress tried to raise the issue abortively. The Lok Sabha was adjourned for an hour, shortly after it met, following obituary references and offering tributes to former members.
The Prime Minister stated categorically that the parliamentarians will send out a message of their unequivocal support to brave “jawans” facing hardships on the border.
“The entire Parliament stands with the brave soldiers of the country with one voice. I believe that Parliament and all its members will give out a very strong message”, said the PM before the start of Parliament.
He also mentioned that the situations are set to become tougher due to the onset of winters that marks heavy snowfall on the border area.
“This Parliament, particularly in this session, has one more crucial responsibility… just like the faith with which they (soldiers) are standing, determined to protect motherland, Parliament and all its members too will send out a message in unanimous voice, spirit and resolve that the country stands in support of them”, Modi said.
“In one voice, one pledge and one feeling, we will send out a message to the soldiers that we are with them,” the Prime Minister said.
Reacting to Modi’s ‘expectations’ from the Opposition, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor was quoted by a news agency as saying , “There is no doubt that all of us stand with the soldiers. However, the Government should tell Parliament what is the situation on the border.”
Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha sitting will be held in two shifts for 18 days without any offs. Entry will only be allowed to those having a negative Covid-19 report and wearing masks will be compulsory.
In run-up to the session, while over 4,000 people including MPs and staff have been tested for Covid-19, most parliamentary operations have been digitalised, entire premises sanitised and doors made touch-free.
The Rajya Sabha will convene in morning shift from 9 am till 1 pm, and the Lok Sabha in evening shift from 3 pm to 7 pm. The chambers of both Houses along with their respective galleries will be used for sitting of the members in each shift. In between the two shifts, the entire complex will be sanitised.
Frequent sanitisation of the entire Parliament complex will also be carried out, while arrangements have been made to sanitise various parliamentary papers as well as footwear and cars of MPs, officials said. Frisking of people will also make way for touch-less security scanning, while thermal scanning will also be totally touch-free.
It has also been decided that air of air conditioners will be exchanged six times every day to avoid any possible infection. The DRDO has provided multi-utility Covid-19 kits to all MPs. Each kit contains 40 disposable masks, five N-95 masks, 20 bottles of sanitisers of 50 ml each, face shields, 40 pairs of gloves, a touch-free hook to open and close doors without touching them, herbal sanitation wipes and tea bags to enhance immunity.
Tuesday, 15 September 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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