Vidhan Sabha Speaker Premchand Aggarwal has announced that the winter session of the Assembly will be held on 21-23 December after obtaining the Governor’s approval. It is believed that, among other things, a supplementary budget will also be presented in the House. The session is being held during a rising Covid-19 crisis in the state and, naturally, will test the abilities of the Vidhan Sabha administration to provide a safe environment. These will be particularly tested as, given the political heat generated by the so-called farmer’s protest, the Opposition – depleted as it is – cannot be expected to sit and listen quietly to Ministers answering run of the mill questions. Given the Congress’ determination to exploit the situation as much as possible to its advantage, the situation is likely to get rambunctious.
It has happened in the past, leading to repeated adjournments and, at the end, the government rushing through its bills without much of a discussion. In that context, it cannot be expected that the coming session will prove a fruitful one in legislative terms. The political wannabes will certainly make the usual attempts to ‘gherao’ the assembly. It can be expected that the government will take more than the usual strict measures to control such moves, as there are already enough ways in which the corona virus is spreading.
It is understandable that every effort has to be made to keep life running as normal, including that of the legislature. However, just as adjustments have been made in other areas, it may be time, perhaps, to formulate new rules that can allow this essential part of democracy to function better. In fact, just as a lot of employees are willing even to take pay cuts to work from home, some of these improved rules might be continued even when the pandemic is over. It will prove a challenge that was treated as an opportunity.