New Delhi: The Monsoon session of the Lok Sabha began on a stormy note on Monday, July 19, with the Opposition creating a ruckus and preventing Prime Minister Narendra Modi from introducing his newly-inducted Union ministers to the House.
The session began a day after a global report alleged surveillance of mobile phones by Israeli spyware Pegasus sold only to governments across countries, including India. The report claimed over 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three Opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of business persons and activists could have been targeted for hacking.
Also, the Opposition was all geared up to take on the government on various issues such as CVID-19 handling, fuel price hikes, farmers’ agitation etc. Many Opposition MPs were likely to give notices of suspension of business, seeking discussions on these issues.
The government, on its part, has readied a big legislative agenda for the Monsoon Session.
On Monday, as the Lok Sabha assembled, chaos broke out, leading to an adjournment of nearly 40 minutes till 2 pm.
Amid the din, the Prime Minister, reportedly, said that hs new ministers should be “considered as introduced,” as per media reports.
The Prime Minister said said he was expecting members of the House to show enthusiasm by thumping their desks as a large number of those from the dalits, Scheduled Tribes and OBC communities as well as sons of farmers and those from economically backward and rural backgrounds have become ministers in the recent rejig.
"However, probably, some people did not like that people of such background have become ministers and that is why they are now conducting themselves with such behaviour," the prime minister said, taking a jibe at the Opposition.
Modi appealed to the Speaker to consider introduction of the ministers with the submission of their list to the House.
Responding to the prime minister's appeal, the Speaker announced that the House has accepted the introduction of the ministers.
Criticising the Opposition for not allowing the prime minister to introduce the new ministers, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said such a thing was happening for the first time in his 24 years of parliamentary career.
Earlier, four newly elected members --- Maddila Gurumoorthy (YSR Congress), Mangal Suresh Angadi (BJP), M P Abdussamad Samadani (IUML), Vijayakumar (Congress) --- took oath as the House convened after a gap of nearly four months.
Following this, the prime minister stood up to introduce the newly inducted ministers who had taken oath on July 7 following a major rejig in the council of ministers.
As soon Modi stood up, Opposition MPs started shouted slogans and disrupted the proceedings.
On Sunday, Opposition parties had held a separate meeting after the all-party meet which was attended by 33 parties.
During the all-party meet, Opposition parties objected to government's offer for a joint address to all MPs by the PM on COVID-19 at the Parliament annexe, saying this will be "highly irregular" at a time when Parliament will be in session and it aims to "bypass" norms.
Leaders, including from TMC and CPI(M), also said when the pandemic and issues related to it can be discussed on the floor of the House, what was the need to go "outside".
The annexe is a separate building within the premises of the Parliament complex.
"What is the need to go outside Parliament? Any address should be on the floor of the House," TMC RS member Derek O'Brien, who was at the meeting, said.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the party's position has always been that when Parliament is in session, whatever the government has to say, it can do so on the floor of the House.
"It is highly irregular for the government to do this. When the Parliament is in session, any address or presentation the government wants to make, it has to be done from inside Parliament," he said.
O'Brien claimed all opposition leaders in the meeting, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, SP's Ramgopal Yadav and BSP's Satish Misra refused to be addressed "outside" Parliament.
In another development, various parties, including the Congress and the TMC, said they would demand restoration of MPLAD funds in the all-party meeting chaired by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, sources said.
Birla assured them he will raise the issue with the government and its top functionaries, they said.
The government has listed 17 new Bills for introduction in the session. Three of the Bills seek to replace ordinances issued recently.
One of the ordinances issued on June 30, prohibits any agitation and strike by anyone engaged in the essential defence services.
The Essential Defence Services Ordinance 2021 came in the backdrop of the announcement by major federations of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to go on an indefinite strike from the later part of July to protest the government's decision to corporatise OFB.
The Essential Defence Service Bill, 2021 has been listed to replace the ordinance, according to an LS bulletin.
The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021 is another measure that seeks to replace an ordinance.
Rajya Sabha Adjourned for Day
Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day after witnessing multiple disruptions as several Opposition members trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans and protesting over various issues.
As soon as the House reassembled at 3:00 pm, Opposition members entered the Well of the House and started raising slogans against the government.
Deputy Rajya Sabha Chairman Harivansh, however, tried to conduct the business amid the din.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to initiate a discussion under Rule 267 (suspension of rules) but was not allowed by the deputy chairman.
The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 seeks to provide for a fresh framework to establish and manage vessel traffic services besides use of the term “marine aids to navigation” instead of “lighthouse” to enable further use of modern forms of aids to navigation.
The House witnessed three adjournments before the deputy chair adjourned it for the day.