19 Sep 2020: As coronavirus cases rise, Monsoon Session could be cut short
Since the session started on September 14, nearly two dozen parliamentarians, including Cabinet Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel, have tested positive.
Though the session is scheduled to end on October 1, it could be wound up earlier.
Context: Background: In a first, parliamentarians remained seated while addressing House
A staggered seating arrangement was put in place, MPs were ordered to wear masks always, and maintain social distancing.
Moreover, in an unprecedented move, MPs addressed the Chair while being seated.
Cases: On first day, several MPs tested positive, cases are rising
Evidently, on the first day of the session, several MPs tested positive. While parliamentarians are well aware of the risk, the diagnosis of Vinay Sahasrabuddhe has left them worried.
The BJP leader, who tested negative last Friday, revealed that he contracted the infection. He took the test after suffering from mild fever.
This week, he spoke in the Rajya Sabha on coronavirus.
Fact: Sahasrabuddhe must have spent time in Central Hall: TMC leader
Details: Session could even be wrapped up by middle of next-week
With infections surging, the government is pondering about trimming the session's duration.
Citing sources, Indian Express reported that if 11 ordinances, that were promulgated earlier, get Parliament's nod, the session will end soon.
The NDA-led Centre hopes to get them passed in the first half of next week. Further, two MPs told the daily that the session could end by the middle of next week.
Rules: In the meantime, newer rules have been introduced
Until the session ends, new stricter guidelines have been introduced, IE added.
As part of the rules, MPs, media persons, and staff will have to take the antigen test daily. The entry of former MPs, MLCs, and MLAs has also been restricted.
Moreover, officials escorting MPs will be permitted into the complex only after they furnish a negative RT-PCR report, taken within 72 hours.
Announcements: Earlier, Naidu stopped MPs from visiting other members' seats
In the last few days, Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu were often seen pulling up MPs, if they didn't adhere to coronavirus-induced guidelines.
Naidu ordered that MPs will neither come to the Table office nor visit the seats of other members. They can, however, pass slips for communication.
"It's not allowed in examination halls but is allowed here," Naidu quipped.
Looking back: Indo-China conflict, coronavirus, farm Bills kept parliamentarians busy this week
Notably, issues like the Indo-China conflict, the migrant crisis sparked due to lockdown, deaths of doctors, battered economy, and three controversial farm Bills kept both Houses occupied in the initial days of the Monsoon Session.
The Lok Sabha is yet to consider the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) 2020.
To make the most of the session, both Houses are conducting sessions on weekends as well.