Govt calls ‘special session’ of Parliament between Sep 18-22, keeps agenda under wraps

New Delhi: Special session being convened a day after Modi’s 73rd birthday

BY | Thursday, 31 August, 2023

The government on Thursday announced a “special session” of Parliament for five days between September 18 and 22 but kept the agenda for it under wraps, triggering speculation.

“Special Session of Parliament (13th Session of 17th Lok Sabha and 261st Session of Rajya Sabha) is being called from 18th to 22nd September having five sittings. Amid Amrit Kaal, looking forward to having fruitful discussions and debate in Parliament,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said on X.

It will be the first such special session under the nine years of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government which had convened a special joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to mark the midnight GST roll-out on June 30, 2017. However, it will be a full-fledged session of five days this time with both Houses meeting separately as they usually do during sessions.

Generally, three parliamentary sessions are held in a year- Budget, Monsoon and Winter sessions.

Sources said the “special session” could see parliamentary operations being shifted to the new Parliament building which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.

With the government not spelling out its agenda, speculation swirled that the government may push some showpiece bills in the run-up to some key state assembly polls followed by the all-important Lok Sabha election.

Sources, including in the ruling BJP, spoke of the possibility of bills on simultaneous general, state and local polls, something Modi has assiduously pushed, and reservation for women in directly elected legislatures like Lok Sabha and assemblies. Both are constitutional amendment bills and will require passage with the support of two-third members in both Houses.

The recent historic success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission and India’s goals for ‘Amrit Kaal’ may be part of the wider discussions during the special session, which will come a week after the G20 summit meeting scheduled for September 9-10.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged that the announcement of the special session just three weeks after the end of the Monsoon session was aimed at managing “the news cycle” and countering the news about the ongoing meeting of INDIA parties in Mumbai and the latest revelations on Adani. The Monsoon session of Parliament ended on August 11.

“Regardless, the JPC demand (on the Adani issue) will continue to resonate inside and outside Parliament,” the Congress MP added. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said on X that the special session called during “India’s most important festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is unfortunate and goes against the Hindu sentiments. Surprised at their choice of dates.”

Incidentally, the special session is being convened a day after Modi’s 73rd birthday. The BJP observes the 16-day period from Modi’s birthday to Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 as ‘sewa pakhwara’ during which various programmes are held across the country.

The last time Parliament met outside its three usual sessions was –at midnight on June 30, 2017, to mark the rollout of GST. However, it was a joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and was not a proper session. A six-day special sitting was held in August 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of India’s independence.

Midnight sessions were also held on August 9, 1992, for the 50th anniversary of the ‘Quit India Movement’, August 14-15, 1972 to celebrate the silver jubilee of India’s independence, while the first such session was on August 14-15, 1947 on the eve of India’s independence.

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