The parliamentary Affairs Ministry is considered seasonal, given the fact that it warrants work mainly when Parliament is in session.
However, the catch is that it requires a lot of overtime work when the two Houses are working. As the session drew to a close on Wednesday, Venkaiah Naidu said: “I have dual duty — as a member (of the Rajya Sabha) and as a manager (for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha).” As a “manager”, Naidu did have some testing moments, trying to cope with absenteeism. Even the roll call of absentee MPs at a BJP parliamentary party meeting in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not help. Naidu can utilise the inter-session period to think of some other methods to ensure that he does not have to scout for missing members when it is time for a headcount.
On the last day of the Budget Session, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley invited ministers, leaders of other parties and MPs for a lunch at his office in Parliament building. Many guests turned up. They were served packed lunches and different kinds of juices and sweets. According to one MP who attended the lunch, non-vegetarian food was also served. BSP, SP, TMC and BJD members were also seen. However, it remains uncertain if any Congress leader was invited.
It is common for ministers to reach out to opposition members and seek their support for passing Bills related to their ministries in Parliament. But this one takes the cake. Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy met a couple of Lok Sabha members and sought their support for passage of a Bill to set up India’s first skill development university. He urged the MPs not to insist on sending it to a standing committee, arguing that India is already lagging behind other countries in skill development. The MPs asked him when he planned to bring the Bill. He told them that the Bill was not ready and would be brought in the next session only, leaving the MPs wondering about the minister’s keenness to avoid the standing committee route.
Six months after they took charge, both Ministers of State in the Human Resource Development Ministry are still complaining of a space crunch. The staff of the two junior ministers — Upendra Kushwaha and R S Katheria — had asked for a couple of additional rooms. The ministers, however, are still waiting for the extra space while their staff continue to complain about cramped working conditions.
The government seems to have given up the idea of providing Kindle reading devices to Cabinet ministers. According to the proposal, the agenda for the Cabinet meetings and the related notes would be sent on the devices, which would be returned to the Cabinet Secretariat after the meeting. The idea, it is learnt, has been dropped due to security concerns. In February, the National Informatics Centre had been instructed to implement the plan in six months.