Expunged-remark, coronavirus talk: Details from Day 1 of Monsoon Session
On the first day of the Monsoon Session, the Lok Sabha witnessed an uproar over various issues, from the removal of question hour to the rise in coronavirus numbers and a comment by Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy on Finance Minister. The Parliament convened for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak, with extraordinary restrictions to minimize the transmission. Here's what went down today.
Lockdown kept deaths and cases low, said Health Minister
Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus numbers, which have made India the second worst-affected nation, were discussed with Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan standing by the lockdown. He said the four months of curbs helped to prevent 14-29 lakh cases and 37-78,000 deaths. India's cases and deaths per million are 3,328 and 55 respectively, he added, calling the figures one of the lowest globally.
Health infrastructure was improved during the lockdown: Minister
The BJP leader said India spent the locked down months in creating additional health infrastructure, enhancing human resources, and producing critical items like PPE kits and N-95 masks within the country. "A case in point is the increase in dedicated isolation beds 36.3 times and dedicated ICU beds above 24.6 times to what existed in March 2020," he said in the Lok Sabha.
A lot still needs to be researched, said Harsh Vardhan
About the disease, he explained, "Many of the epidemiological parameters, such as mode of transmission, sub-clinical infection, the period of virus shedding, the role of immunity etc. are still being researched. Once a person is exposed to the infection, the disease may develop anytime between 1-14 days."
Opposition, angry over question-hour's move, was told it wastes time
Meanwhile, Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury spoke against the cancellation of question hour, a time period where MPs can furnish Bills, saying that the government was trying to stifle opposition voices. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi concurred. Defending the move, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said in the last five years, 60% of the Lok Sabha session and 30% of Rajya Sabha were "wasted" in question hour.
Roy should apologize for insulting womenfolk: Joshi
Separately, during the proceedings, a comment pertaining to Nirmala Sitharaman by Trinamool's Roy was expunged. Reacting to the choice of words, Joshi said, "Commenting on attire, being a senior member, what's he talking about? He should apologize unconditionally. It is an insult to the womenfolk."
For the first time in months, Farooq attended Parliament proceedings
Interestingly, Monday's session was the first one attended by former J&K CM and NC veteran Farooq Abdullah in over a year. Abdullah was detained in August last year when the Centre introduced a Bill to divide J&K into two union territories and revoke Article 370, which bestowed a special status to the state. He was released in March, before son Omar was granted freedom.
Reportedly, 17 Lok Sabha MPs tested positive for coronavirus
And, an NDTV report said 17 Lok Sabha MPs have tested positive for coronavirus. Of them, 12 belong to the ruling BJP, two are members of the YSR Congress, and one each are from Shiv Sena, DMK, and RLP. To recall, Speaker Om Birla had said all MPs would undergo coronavirus tests; the ones who contracted the infection were tested on September 13-14.