On Sunday, a day before Parliament holds a five-day special session, leaders of parties across the political spectrum urged passage of the women’s reservation bill at an all-party meeting called by the Union government. Opposition leaders questioned the timing of the session and the agenda and asked whether the government had planned to advance the winter session by rescheduling House sessions.
According to the Opposition, the agenda does not mention a 5-day session, even though it was initially stated there would be one.
According to Pralhad Joshi, 51 leaders from 34 parties attended the meeting. The session will begin on Monday in the existing Parliament building and move to the new building on Tuesday.
We will have a photo session in the old Parliament on September 19, followed by a function in the Central Hall at 11am. Then we will enter the new Parliament. He said the new Parliament’s session will begin on the 19th of September and regular government work will begin on the 20th.
The government functionary said that after a special “function” on Tuesday in the Cental Hall, during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Speaker Om Birla, Opposition leaders in both Houses and lawmakers will address the crowd, they will move to the new building, which was inaugurated in May.
According to the Opposition, despite its initial announcement that the five-day session would be a special session, there was no mention of it in the agenda that was circulated. Tiruchi Siva, DMK leader, said, “The agenda indicates this is the 13th session of the 17th Lok Sabha and the 261st session of the Rajya Sabha. The government has eliminated Zero Hour and Question Hour, which robs members of their right to speak.”
Manoj Jha of the RJD also said special sessions usually have a single agenda and the government’s list of business “doesn’t justify the timing”.
In addition to the Women’s Reservation Bill, the sub-categorisation of quotas, and a caste census, the RJD leader also demanded a discussion on unemployment and the situation in Manipur.
Among the leaders, there is a feeling that the government will propose a legislation that has not been mentioned on the list of topics or revealed beforehand. This suspicion could be due to past experiences where the ruling party unexpectedly presented new proposals to the opposition. As it appears, this apparently minor agenda does not require an extraordinary session; unless the government aims to shorten winter’s duration because of the election season. A source from an unidentified party expressed this opinion.
As per the Constitution of India, each House of Parliament can summon the other to meet from time to time, but the gap between two sessions should not exceed six months. Parliament meets three times annually, for budget, monsoon, and winter sessions.
Approximately 7-8 hours will be allocated for the discussion of the 75-year journey of the parliamentary branch since Samvidhan Sabha — achievements, experiences, memories, and learnings. Detailed information provided to the leaders indicates that the session will begin on the 18th. There will be group photo sessions on September 19 for members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and a joint photo session for MPs from both Houses. Legislative business is scheduled for September 20-22.
It has been announced that a tentative list of legislative business will be taken up, including the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2023, the Post Office Bill, 2023, and the Chief Election Commissioner. Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023.
Women’s reservation bill was also demanded by the BJD, a party close to the BJP. As the government has limited time for legislating, Pinaki Mishra said it should concentrate on bringing the bill that seeks 33% reservation for women in state assemblies and Parliament.
The Trinamool Congress said the first day of the session should be set aside for “people issues” such as price hike, unemployment, and outstanding payments to states. Additionally, the party has unequivocally called for rethinking the CEC Bill, calling its provisions “anti-constitutional, anti-judicial, and anti-democratic.
According to the women’s reservation Bill, the President will ratify the appointments following the recommendation of a selection body consisting of the Prime Minister, LoP, and a cabinet minister who would be nominated by the Prime Minister. A Supreme Court judge was not included on the panel, which is being criticized by the opposition. Moreover, the TMC supported the demand for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill and the return of MPs suspended during the previous session.
“Union minister Rajnath Singh assured the member that the agenda would be provided in English as well,” the person quoted above said.
Several leaders received the invitation to the flag hoisting ceremony late on Friday evening, and no proper arrangements were made for lawmakers.
Third leaders said Ram Mohan Naidu, leader of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and Vijay Sai Reddy, leader of the YSR Congress, exchanged words during the meeting. “There was a brief exchange between the two over state politics. Naidu raised the issue of former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu being arrested…,” the leader said.
A day before the start of the Special Session of Parliament, Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar hoisted the national flag at the new Parliament building.