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It is my effort to lead the House with consensus: Om Birla | India News

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In the past two years, Lok Sabha has seen record levels of productivity, lively debate, and a fair amount of controversy. Speaker About Birla talks about topics such as House disruptions, the new Parliament building, and the debate on virtual House panel meetings in a conversation with Akhilesh singh. Excerpts:
On June 19 you will complete two years as Lok Sabha Speaker, how has your experience been?
It has been good. The Prime Minister, politicians from all parties and all members of the House have served well. That is why we have been able to maintain the people’s faith in democracy and in democratic institutions. For the past two years, I have tried to ensure that as many members as possible have time to speak in the House. Up to 107 bills were passed in two years with a record turnout in the debates. We have also digitized the questions, now 90% of the questions come digitally, before it used to be 40%. Furthermore, productivity was also high. During the crown too, it was 167%. It is my effort to lead the House with consensus.
It has given newcomers and women the opportunity to raise their issues. What has been your experience with these experiments?
The first session ran for 27 days in which 35 bills were approved with a productivity of 122%. It has been my effort that more and more people have opportunities. In one day, 161 people spoke during zero hour. I think it’s a record.
In the last session, a special discussion on Covid-19 was requested. Do you think there will be a specific debate on Covid-19 in the next session?
In the last session, Covid-19 was discussed. The Business Advisory Committee decides what issues will be addressed. All members of the group are there. They decide what topics are to be discussed.
When he took office in 2019, the initial sessions went smoothly, but in the last two, we saw the opposition get a bit aggressive. With assembly polls right around the corner, do you expect another stormy session?
It is my sincere endeavor to keep the Chamber running smoothly. But some political parties resolve not to allow the Chamber to function on any given day. This kind of bias and a premeditated mindset is not good for a democratic institution. Any issue can be discussed, as there is a process, but it is not desirable not to let the Chamber work. Some people say that before, whole sessions used to disappear. I say let’s set a good example.
In the last session, some high-level leaders complained that they were not given enough time to speak.
If any problem arises according to the rules, then everyone has enough time. What they say outside is none of my business, but if they complain to me, I’ll give them time.
Can we wait for the monsoon session in time and what will be the agenda for the session?
Hopefully the session goes according to schedule. The government’s agenda is set by the Center, and the bills that are going to be presented. Regardless of what the government tells us, we have a debate on that. If there is no consensus, a vote is taken.
It has been active on digital platforms for a long time. What’s your take on the current Twitter controversy?
Twitter and other social networks have also been summoned to our parliamentary committees. The law of a sovereign nation is universally applicable to all who live and work there. However, when it comes to the issue between Twitter and the government, I think the government representatives have said enough about it.
The leader of the Lok Janshakti Party, Chirag Paswan, has asked him not to identify the five MPs as a new group and not to recognize them. What will be your next step?
Of the six parliamentarians of the party, five approached me and told me that Pashupati Kumar Paras is their leader. We agree with their signatures. We keep the records up to date and simply change the information, that a certain leader will be seen as your representative in the House. The parliamentary boards are different, the party is different. You can have another meeting, have another majority, and we will change the information again. BSP has changed leaders several times.
For a long time, virtual meetings of the standing committees were requested, as the members did not want to physically attend. But indecision persists.
There are two issues. There is Rule 362 according to which the minutes of committee meetings will be confidential and will not be discussed in public, unless absolutely necessary. Until 362 is changed, virtual meetings cannot occur.
Construction of the new Parliament is expected to be completed in 2022. Is construction underway?
They have given October 2022 as the deadline and I think the work will be done by then. All the agencies are working and they are doing it brilliantly. They were delayed 16 days, but then they made up for that delay.



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