Something special?

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Something special?

Monday, 18 September 2023 | Pioneer

Something special?

Parliament's special session begins today amid speculation over its true purpose

Though Parliament's special session's date with destiny is today, the real reason for summoning it has remained shrouded in suspense ever since its announcement only days after the monsoon session. Significantly, the BJP Government had called for this special session on September 18 while everyone and everything was focused on making the G20 Summit a resounding success. This unexpected announcement drew attention from across the political spectrum, but had everyone clueless about the agenda or the Government's underlying motive. Since a special session is called only when there is an urgent, important issue, there was a lot of speculation over the issues likely to be taken up: National security to agricultural reforms to legislative initiatives. Making it more secretive, for its part, the Government did not list any business. Only days before the session's start did the Government release the agenda: There is a special discussion on our Parliament's journey of 75 years. The Government also listed the Bill on the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner to be taken up for consideration and passage. The other listed items for the Lok Sabha include 'The Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023' and 'The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023', passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 3, 2023. Besides, 'The Post Office Bill, 2023' has been listed for the Lok Sabha. The session is likely to see the proceedings of Parliament shifting from the old building to the new on the second day.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has termed it "much ado about nothing" as all this business, assuming it is all, could have waited till the winter session in November. In the absence of any suitably tangible information, meanwhile, rumours and speculation are rife. Guesses are as wide-ranging as the declaration of Emergency, a Cabinet reshuffle or early Lok Sabha elections by dissolving the House (though all these can be achieved even when Parliament is not in session). The big question remains, why was the special session called in the first place? Given the year-end Assembly polls and the 2024 general elections, it could be a strategic move by the BJP to gain political mileage. To be fair, the sitting of the two Houses provides it a platform to articulate its vision to public. Calling a special session may also help in avoiding parliamentary logjams which have routinely marked the sessions. Having said that, it still remains an unprecedented move. A special session was not called to discuss grave situations like the Coronavirus pandemic, demonetisation or the incidents of violence in Manipur. So why now? Besides, for announcing it barely two months before the scheduled start of the winter session, the Government ought to have very sound reasons, else it would set a bad precedence. The bottomline is that arbitrary moves must be avoided as these create unnecessary confusion, affecting adversely not only the electorate but also the nation's economic sentiment and growth.

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