Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla Friday thanked the ruling and Opposition parties for a productive Monsoon Session but expressed disapproval at the chaotic scenes witnessed in Rajya Sabha during the passage of farm Bills.
“It was unfortunate,” Birla said when asked about protests by the Opposition during the last two days of the session. Referring to the practice of either House not commenting on the proceedings of the other, he said: “Efforts should be made to strengthen democratic institutions further.”
“The dignity of the House and its chair was an important aspect of the parliamentary system. All members have a duty to respect it,” he added.
Birla was addressing the media after the conclusion of the Monsoon Session. The session, which began on September 14, was scheduled to end on October 1. It ended on September 23, cut short by the pandemic. Three MPs and a minister died of Covid-19, and several people on the premises tested positive.
The Speaker said the Opposition in Lok Sabha boycotted the last day of the session due to “some political compulsions”, but added that its leaders had conveyed that they did not have any issues with him. Birla said he had invited the Opposition leaders for a cup of a tea and requested them to attend the valedictory proceedings of the House on Wednesday.
Speaker Birla also said the construction of the new Parliament building will be completed in 21 months. “We expect to hold the session in the new building when the country celebrates 75 years of Independence,” he said.
The estimated cost for the building is Rs 892 crore and is expected to be completed by July 2022. The tender has been awarded to Tata Projects Ltd.
The Speaker pointed out that despite adversarial circumstances and restrictions due to Covid-19, Lok Sabha recorded historic productivity —167 per cent. “On average, 370 MPs attended the House in a day. This is even better than in a session during normal times,” he said. He credited the cooperation of all political parties for this.
On the issue of the Question Hour, Birla said members were given ample opportunities to raise matters concerning peoples’ welfare through written questions and the Zero Hour. Asked why the border stand-off with China was not debated in the House, the Speaker said the pandemic was the most challenging issue facing the country. That issue, he said, had come up not just during a general debate but also during a discussion on the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act.
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