Updated: February 14, 2021 2:01:29 am
In a session marked by four straight days of disruption, heightened aggression, bitter fights and deepening divides, the Lok Sabha, according to Speaker Om Birla, has seen “record productivity” over the past three days.
“The house sat late night hours, the members took part in discussions on the motion of thanks as well as on the budget. The Motion of Thanks debate went on for 16 hours 39 minutes with 130 MPs placing their views on it. The budget debate was scheduled to be for 10 hours, but it went on for 14 hours 40 minutes and 117 MPs spoke. Women’s participation in these budget (debates) was unprecedented,” the Speaker told reporters on Saturday.
But an undercurrent of bitterness was reflected in the number of privilege notices moved by each side against the other.
On Friday, BJP MPs Sanjay Jaiswal, Rakesh Singh and P P Chaudhary moved a breach of privilege notice against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after he led his party members and those from the TMC, DMK and NCP to stand in silence in memory of the farmers who had died in the recent protests against the farm laws. The three MPs said the dramatic move amounted to contempt of the House as it was carried out without the permission of the Chair.
BJP sources said more members will give notices on breach of privilege against the Congress leader. Speaker Birla, too, was not amused by the gesture, saying running the house was a responsibility entrusted in him. On Saturday, while replying to the budget debate, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman termed it as an insult to the constitutional post.
Earlier, BJP members had moved another privilege notice against TMC member Mahua Moitra over her remark against a former Chief Justice in her speech on Motion of Thanks to the presidential address. Party MP Nishikanth Dubey even sought cancellation of Moitra’s Lok Sabha membership.
Congress MP Hibi Eden, meanwhile, moved a notice of privilege on Saturday over the seating protocol for a Bharat Petroleum function in his constituency, Ernakulam, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will Sunday dedicate the Propylene Derivative Petrochemical Project to the nation.
Eden said Union Minister V Muraleedharan, a Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra, has been seated with dignitares while he, the Lok Sabha MP from the area, has been denied space on the stage. He termed it an attempt at “willfully jeapardizing the protocol”.
The Lok Sabha witnessed disruption for four consecutive days last week with the Opposition, which had boycotted President’s address to the joint session on the first day, demanding a separate debate on the farmer issue.
Speaking to reporters, Birla said presiding officers of both Houses and officials will hold discussions on whether the remaining part of the Budget Session could be conducted as per the pre-Covid situation. During the pandemic, seating arrangements for the MPs were made in both chambers and visitors’ galleries. While the Rajya Sabha met in the morning, the Lok Sabha sitting was in the afternoon in order to maintain social distancing protocol.
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