Masks, plastic shields, social distancing become the new norm as MPs attend Parliament session amid COVID-19
While nearly 200 members were present in the Lok Sabha chamber, a little over 30 were seated in the visitors’ gallery located above the main chamber to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
New Delhi: Separated by plastic shields installed in front of their benches, members of Lok Sabha attended the first day of the Monsoon session being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
While nearly 200 members were present in the Lok Sabha chamber, a little over 30 were seated in the visitors’ gallery located above the main chamber.
A giant TV screen in the Lok Sabha chamber showed very few Lok Sabha members occupying seats in the Rajya Sabha chamber, the other venue where LS MPs have been accommodated keeping in mind physical distancing norms.
Benches which usually accommodate six members had a numbered seating plan for only three.
Glass-like plastic shields of varied sizes were installed in front of benches to protect members from coronavirus. The shield also covered part of the members’ sides.
The front seats of the Treasury benches on the right of the Speaker’s podium were occupied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting on a seat marked as number one, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on seat number 2 and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on seat number 3.
The front seats of the Opposition benches were occupied by T R Baalu of the DMK and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress.
As soon as the prime minister entered the House, he was greeted with claps and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” slogan.
Modi greeted members, including those from the Opposition, with folded hands.
All members were wearing masks. Some were also seen wearing face shields, including Trinamool Congress leader Kalyan Banerjee.
It is to be noted that there was huge interest among MPs who are generally known for being late but this time most of them came in early. The attendance was higher than it is on normal days, as in non-COVID-19 times.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Sunday (September 13) had sent a safety COVID-19 kit along with a letter to all the parliamentarians amid the pandemic.
The Speaker himself had ensured and supervised all the arrangements for members' safety and convenience to enable them to participate in the deliberations of the House without any apprehension.
The House met for neatly 20 minutes in the morning and was adjourned for an hour after paying tributes to former President Pranab Mukherjee, a sitting MP and 13 former members who died in the recent past.
Though, there were a few initial hiccups, the Speaker is confident of finding a solution as the Parliament session progresses.