On the second day of the Monsoon session, the Parliament is expected to continue to witness scenes of protests by the Opposition over myriad issues including the Pegasus spyware snooping scandal, the response to COVID-19 pandemic, and the continous hike in fuel prices.
On Monday, both Houses were adjourned multiple times as Opposition members raised slogans in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
Here are the latest updates:
Rajya Sabha | 1.35 pm
Govt under reporting COVID deaths: Kharge
Rajya Sabha resumes and YSR Congress MPs are seen seated.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge speaks. All the parties have agreed to have a discussion on COVID. Though there were other subjects listed, you allowed a debate on COVID, which was demanded by the entire House.
When I rose to speak (before adjournment) a few members did not let me speak. You (Deputy Chairman) didn’t object. This is an insult to me. I have been in Parliament for nearly 4-5 decades. I feel insulted, he says. “I feel hurt. It shouldn’t happen to others,” he says and proceeding to take part in the COVID-19 discussion. He pays tributes to Corona warriors, doctors, paramedic workers, Asha workers, government employees and those who are in non-government sector.
He shows some grim photos of bodies floating in river Ganga, migrant workers walking back home and those of people waiting for oxygen.
The government claims 5.5 lakh persons have died due to COVID. This is a serious under reporting of deaths, he says. Treasury Benches oppose it.
In this country there are more than 6 lakh villages in this country. If in a village, even if five persons lost their jobs due to COVID this figure will go up more than 30 lakh deaths, he says. “There are more than 7000 towns and if only 10 persons died in each of these towns then alone more than 7 lakh people would have died. There are another 18 metropolitan cities. If all this is put together the number of deaths will far exceed the government figure of 5.5 lakh,” he adds.
He blames the government for shortage in ventilator beds, oxygen, and the plight of migrant labours. He says other countries were prepared to tackle the second wave. But here, the ministers were busy campaigning. You were breaking the very rules brought by you, he says.
Mr. Kharge now turns to shortage of COVID vaccines. How much did you order was way too little and too late. You have claimed that by December the entire country would be vaccinated. But what is the situation today? Only 5. 3 per cent of the total population has received two dose.
COVID mismanagement has also destroyed the economy. Congress repeatedly wanted you to give money to the people, but you ignored.
You took steps only after the Supreme Court intervened, he says.
He ends the speech saying former Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has been made scapegoat but the PM has to take responsibility for the COVID crisis.
Rajya Sabha | 1.15 pm
‘Pandemic is a constant learning experience’
Rajya Sabha is to take up discussion on COVID, which has been agreed upon by majority of the opposition leaders.
BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta initiates the discussion.
We thought this (COVID) will be short lived. But that was not the case. Not only second wave, now we are expecting a third wave. The Spanish Flu caused 50,000 deaths. It is quiet clear that we are facing a long drawn struggle, he says.
This pandemic is a constant learning experience, he says. He recalls how a few members wore mask last year and the Chair objected to it.
House adjourned for 15 minutes.
Rajya Sabha | 1.00 pm
Rajya Sabha reassembles. Deputy Chairperson Harivansh takes up short duration discussion on COVID-19 management.
Leader of the House Piyush Goyal requests YSR Congress MP Vijaisai Reddy to get back to the seat and take part in the discussion. Mr. Reddy has been seeking adjournment motion to press his demand for special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
Most Opposition members are seen seated.
YSR Congress leader Vijay Sai Reddy said that YSR Congress MPs will not go back to their seats till there ia discussion on special status for Andhra Pradesh.
PM concerned about Opposition’s attitude
During a meeting with BJP MPs, Prime Minister expressed concern about the attitude of the opposition, especially the Congress. “He said it [Congress] still believes, it has the right to be in power, Parliamentary Affair Minister Pralhad Joshi quoted Mr. Modi has saying at the meeting.
He also told BJP MPs that the government was willing to hold discussions in both Houses of Parliament, but the opposition was showing a most irresponsible behaviour, Mr. Joshi said. – PTI
Govt defending NSO: Gaurav Gogoi
The Congress termed government’s response to the Pegasus surveillance report as disappointing.
Speaking to newsagency ANI, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said: ” Instead of ordering a probe under judicial oversight, GoI is defending NSO.”
Former IT Minister had said in Parliament that an enquiry has been done into NSO by CERT-In. What happened to that probe? he wondered.
Rajya Sabha | 12.00 noon
Rajya Sabha reassembles. Deputy Chairperson Harivansh is in the Chair. As soon as he proceeds with Question Hour, opposition MPs troop into the well of the House. “So you don’t want the House to run,” he asks.
He announces the House that there will be a discussion on COVID-19 and adjourns it.
Rajya Sabha | 11.05 am
In Rajya Sabha, MPs insist on suspension of regular business under Rule 267. The Chair doesn’t permit it. Congress leader Anand Sharma requests the Chair to reconsider. “We can do away with 267 then,” he says.
“You give 15-16 notices under 267. How many can I take?” Mr. Naidu responds and asks them to raise the issues during Zero Hour instead.
Protests continue. House is adjourned till 12 noon.
Lok Sabha | 11.05 am
Jas Kaur Meena poses a question on FPO or Farmer Producer Organizations
Kailash Choudhary, MoS Agriculture, says the number of members in an FPO is not restricted on lines of gender. Larger scale of farmers involvement would mean more profitability, he explains.
As disruptions continue, House is adjourned till 2 pm
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha assemble. Speaker Om Birla is chairing the proceedings in Lok Sabha, while Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu is presiding over the Upper House.
In Lok Sabha, opposition members show placards and raise slogans. Mr. Birla proceeds with Question Hour.
Rajya Sabha mourns the death of former member Ramadhar Kashyap.
Bills for Consideration and Passing
– Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
– National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021
Bill for Consideration and Passing
– Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021
Opposition parties demand probe into Pegasus ‘snooping’ issue, sacking of Amit Shah
The issue of “snooping” using Pegasus spyware snowballed into a massive political row in Parliament and outside as various parties demanded a thorough investigation and sacking of Home Minister Amit Shah, while the government maintained it had nothing to do with it.
The Congress accused the government of “treason” and held Shah responsible for the snooping and hacking of phones of journalists, judges and politicians, and demanded a probe into the “role of the prime minister” in the entire matter as well.