‘Government functionaries are tight-lipped about the session’s agenda’.
The Narendra Modi government’s decision to convene a special five-day Parliament session from 18 to 22 September has not only surprised rival parties, but many within the NDA. A resolution thanking the Prime Minister and the government for the successful conduct of G20 Summit appears to be a strong possibility during the session, even as government functionaries remained tight-lipped about the session’s agenda. A celebratory resolution on Chandrayaan-3 mission may also come up during the special session apart a from photo-session of all MPs. The unexpected announcement on the convening of the session fuelled speculation that the sitting might take place in the new Parliament building and the discussions and agenda might include “One Nation, One Election”, Uniform Civil Code and legislation to reserve seats for women. However, there was no official confirmation about these aspects.
There are indications that the agenda of the special Parliament session may be finalised and made public only after the G20 Summit ends. The last time a special session of Parliament was held was on 30 June 2017 when the GST was introduced at midnight. In the normal course, three sessions of Parliament are held in an year–Budget session, Monsson session and Winter session.
Besides the idea of discussion on “One Nation, One Election”, sources said one of the purposes behind the special session in September could be the government’s intention to get an Ordinance passed to facilitate the continuation of Sanjay Kumar Mishra as director of the Enforcement Directorate beyond the 15 September deadline for his exit set by the Supreme Court. The Ordinance to continue his tenure is likely to be issued within days after the end of G20 Summit on 10 September.
The Supreme Court in July had accepted a government plea to extend Mishra’s tenure by 46 days till 15 September in “larger public interest”. During an earlier hearing, the top court observed that the last two one-year extensions given to him were illegal.
The timing of the government’s decision to make public its intention to convene the session took by surprise the Opposition parties that were brainstorming in Mumbai for their Lok Sabha poll strategy.
BJP MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that the Opposition parties were scared of “One Nation, One Election” and there was nothing unusual about the convening of the special session of Parliament. “The PM said in Lok Sabha in 2016 that we need to discuss One Nation, One Election issue. In 1983, the Law Commission and in 1999, the Election Commissioner recommended that assembly and Lok Sabha elections be held simultaneously in the country,” he said.
Samajwadi Party leader Anurag Bhidoriya said that the government is afraid of its loss in the next Lok Sabha elections and is trying to create a sensation over “One Nation, One Election” to divert attention from the growing unity among Opposition parties.
“In a democracy, such sensitive issues need in-depth discussion. The Opposition parties and chief ministers of different states need to be consulted before moving ahead on such a sensitive issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, political exchanges over the possibility of a parliamentary discussion over “One Nation, One Election” and the formation of the Ram Nath Kovind Committee to prepare a report on the issue have grown louder with the ruling BJP asking the Opposition parties not to get flustered and the Opposition Congress questioning the constitution of the panel.
Congress MP Pramod Tiwari said it was strange for a former President to be roped in to head a committee like this. “I can’t recall any precedent in which an ex-President was invited to head a panel and give suggestions on such an issue.” On the other hand, Parliamentary Affairs Ministry Pralhad Joshi tried to send a message that “One Nation, One Election” was not going to come into effect immediately. “Right now, only a committee has been constituted to discuss the topic of ‘One nation, One election’ and to know the opinion of the people.
The agenda for the upcoming special session of Parliament will be shared with the nation soon,” he said in a message on social media platform X. Constitutional experts said a constitutional amendment may be required for “One Nation, One Election”, but the proposal will also need to be passed by 66% of state assemblies in the country to enact such a law.