New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that this Parliament session may be short in duration but is big on occasion, and is of “historic decisions”.
In his remarks to the media ahead of the five-day session, Modi highlighted India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission, the “unprecedented” success of its G20 presidency, the launch of ‘PM Vishwakarma Mission’ and inauguration of convention centre Yashobhoomi, asserting that many developments which have inspired the country and filled it with pride have taken place.
There is an atmosphere of festivity and enthusiasm, and the country has been filled with renewed self-confidence, he said, asking parliamentarians to give maximum time to the short session.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘visionary’ leadership for the success of the G20 Summit.
Birla said Modi’s ‘vision and guidance’ led to a consensus on sensitive issues in the New Delhi Declaration issued by the G20 leaders.
A session of Parliament began on Monday amid an intense buzz on whether the government will have some surprise item up its sleeve during the five-day sitting that will see a discussion on Parliament’s 75-year journey and House proceedings moving to the new building.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said a total of eight bills have been listed for consideration and passage during the session. Floor leaders were on Sunday informed at an all-party meet that a bill on the welfare of senior citizens and three related to SC/ST order have been added to the agenda.
The bills listed earlier include the one on the appointment of chief election commissioner and election commissioners.
The bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha during the last Monsoon session and has drawn protests from the opposition as it seeks to put service conditions of the chief election commissioner and two election commissioners on par with the cabinet secretary and not a Supreme Court judge, as is the case now.
This is being seen as a downgrade in their stature. Though there is no official word on any probable new legislation, there has been a view, including in the BJP circles, that a bill to ensure quota for women in elected legislatures like Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
That Prime Minster Narendra Modi has often highlighted, including in the recent G20 Summit, the growing role of women in different fields in the country has added to the buzz about such a bill.
Asked about the government’s stand on the demands by various parties to bring the women’s reservation bill in the five-day session, Joshi said the government will take “an appropriate decision at an appropriate time”.
In the last few weeks, several parties, including the BJD and the BRS, have demanded reviving the bill, while the Congress also passed a resolution for it at its Hyderabad Congress Working Committee meeting on Sunday.
Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar hoisted the national flag at the new Parliament building on Sunday morning and Joshi said that after a ceremony at the Central Hall of the existing building, the session will move to the new building.
According to a Lok Sabha bulletin, the function will commemorate the rich legacy of the Parliament of India and resolve to make Bharat a developed nation by 2047.
The government’s legislative business will commence from September 20 in the new building. All members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have been called for a group photograph on Tuesday morning.
According to the bulletin issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, all MPs have been called for a group photograph at 9:30 am on Tuesday. An official said arrangements are in place at the inner courtyard of the old building for the group photo.
MPs were also being issued new identity cards to enter the new Parliament building.
The catering will also shift to the new building on September 19, the officials said.
The unusual timing of the session has left everyone wondering, even though the main standout feature on the listed agenda is a special discussion on Parliament’s journey of 75 years starting from the “Samvidhan Sabha” (Constituent Assembly).
The government enjoys the prerogative of tabling in Parliament some new legislation or other items that might not have been part of the listed agenda.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had recently given vent to the sense in the opposition about the session, saying the government could be having some “legislative grenades” up its sleeve.
Commenting on the listed agenda, he had said it “is much ado about nothing” and all this could have waited till the Winter session in November.
Various departments of parliamentary staff are all set to don new uniforms in a signal from the government that the shift to the new building is likely to be marked with a fresh start in more ways than one.
The successful G20 Summit in the national capital under India’s presidency has added to Modi’s appeal and is set to be a major talking point of the treasury benches during the session.
The new dress code with floral motif for a section of staff has already kicked up a political row, with the Congress dubbing it as a “cheap” tactic to promote the ruling party’s poll symbol – the lotus flower.
While announcing the session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Joshi had described it as “special session”. But the government had later made it clear that it was a regular session, 13th session of the present Lok Sabha and 261st session of Rajya Sabha.
Usually, Budget, Monsoon and Winter sessions of Parliament are held every year.
The Monsoon session was held in July-August while the Winter session is due in November-December.
The Budget session has a fixed time of commencement from January end of every year.
The gap between the two sessions cannot be more than six months.
As of now, the government has listed a special discussion on Parliament’s journey of 75 years starting from the Samvidhan Sabha on the first day of the session.
Besides the discussion on Parliamentary Journey, the other listed business for Lok Sabha includes ‘The Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023’ and ‘The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023’, already passed by Rajya Sabha on 3 August 2023.
Besides, ‘The Post Office Bill, 2023’ has also been listed in the Lok Sabha business, according to an official bulletin. The bill was earlier introduced in Rajya Sabha on 10 August 2023.
The discussion on parliamentary journey will be held simultaneously in both the Houses.
On August 31, Joshi, while announcing the “special session” of Parliament for five days from September 18, did not spell out any specific agenda for it. “Amid Amrit Kaal, looking forward to having fruitful discussions and debate in Parliament,” Joshi had posted on X.