The first day of Parliament's special session was its last in the old building
It can now be said with certain confidence that there is nothing special about the special session of Parliament, which got under way yesterday after prolonged suspense regarding the agenda. The only highlight may perhaps be that Parliament will henceforth assemble in the new building. The Government wanted to hold the monsoon session in the new building but could not since it was not ready then, so, it appears, it thought of a special five-day session. In a way, the move is to showcase the new Parliament House and bid adieu to the old building which would now be a relic serving as a museum. While most MPs were nostalgic about parting ways with the old building, they also hailed their new working place in the grand, state-of-the-art Parliament House. The special session began with an address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha, where he talked about several significant events that have taken place on the old premises. He also hoped that the old building will continue to inspire generations with its rich heritage. The Prime Minister took this opportunity to also enumerate the important Bills passed by his Government, pointing out that several historic decisions and solutions to issues pending for decades were reached in the old building. “The House will always say proudly that (abrogation of) Article 370 became possible due to it. GST was also passed here. One Rank One Pension was witnessed by this House. Ten per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections was successfully allowed in the country for the first time without any dispute,” he said to thunderous applause.
Earlier, MoS (Parliamentary Affairs) Arjun Ram Meghwal had informed the MPs that Indian Parliament’s “journey of 75 years will be discussed throughout the day” but that did not happen. Instead, the day was all about speeches from the Treasury benches and the Opposition, mainly the Congress. Opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge did not mince words in attacking the Government over its alleged misuse of CBI-ED in muzzling the dissenting voices. Quoting Nehru, he said he believed that the absence of a strong Opposition meant that there were significant drawbacks in the system. If there is no strong Opposition, it is not right. Now that there is a strong Opposition, the focus is on weakening it through ED and CBI, he claimed. The special session will include five sittings across five days, with a focus on discussing eight legislative items. Additionally, there will be deliberations on the "parliamentary journey of 75 years", encompassing achievements, experiences, memories and learnings. However, how much business is actually transacted in the House remains to be seen. But the bleak possibility of the Government sneaking something up its sleeve and shocking the parliamentarians at a time suited to it appears dimmer each passing minute. We should also, as a responsible nation, not play into paranoia and celebrate the old yielding place to the new: It was simply about shifting from the old building to the new.