The three-hour joint special session of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on November 26 for Constitution Day will be addressed by President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Speaker Om Birla informed Lok Sabha floor leaders in a meeting on Saturday.
Modi did not speak during the meeting and interacted informally with the leaders over tea.
Chairing the meeting, Birla is learnt to have reminded the floors leaders about their cooperation in sitting long hours for conducting legislative and other business in last session.
“I appealed to floor leaders of all parties for their cooperation in smooth functioning of the House. As the House is answerable to the people and I hope parties will raise issues of public interest. There should be debate in the House, and for that it should function,” Birla said.
He said, “All parties have assured me that the session will be smooth and as fruitful as the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha.”
Some storm expected during session
Two potentially stormy Bills are in the pipeline this time — the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which the government has already listed on its agenda, and the Ayodhya Act — but neither issue seems to have been raised during Saturday’s meeting.
Beginning November 18, the winter session concludes on December 13.
The customary meeting was intended to get an idea of issues the Opposition wants to raise, and ensure a smooth functioning of the House during the session.
Sources present in the meeting suggested that the issue of economic slowdown and unemployment, along with the situation in Kashmir and Delhi pollution, emerged as some themes common to issues flagged by floor leaders during the meeting.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay sought a discussion in Lok Sabha on the role of state Governors. He claimed that West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhanker is running a “parallel administration” and making trips without the state government’s knowledge, which is giving rise to serious governance issues.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury urged Birla to refer all Bills to standing committees after they are introduced in the House, which had not happened in the last session. The Speaker had earlier pointed out that this was not possible in the last session because standing committees were still to be constituted, but the committees have come into being since.
Chowdhury also raised the issue of the situation in J&K, poverty, unemployment, farm distress, etc.
National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi said his party’s leader Farooq Abdullah needs to be released to enable him to participate in House proceedings. Abdullah has been under detention since August, after special status to J&K was scrapped.
Danish Ali of BSP was critical of the fact that the Opposition could not raise issues for discussions under Rule 193. The session, he told the meeting, should not confine itself to just government business, as was the case during the last session.
Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM asked for children to be invited on Constitution Day to witness the proceedings. He also called for proceedings of Parliamentary committees to be televised but was told these are confidential matters and thus cannot be aired on either Lok Sabha TV or RS TV.
Biju Janata Dal’s Pinaki Mishra raised the issue of pollution in Delhi.
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