Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is among the Rajya Sabha MPs who have sought the Upper House’s permission to remain absent for a part of or the entire monsoon session of Parliament
On Wednesday, Rajya Sabha chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu said the lawmakers had sought leave of absence for health reasons. The requests have come amid the Covid-19 pandemic..
Besides Manmohan Singh, two other senior Congress leaders — Oscar Fernandes and P Chidambaram — have also asked to be excused.
Other MPs who have sought leave include Parimal Nathwani of the YSR Congress Party; A. Navaneethakrishnan of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; KG Kenye of the Naga People’s Front; Banda Prakash and Lakshmikantha Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi; nominated MP Narendra Jadhav; Hishey Lachungpa of the Sikkim Democratic Front; Trinamool Congress’s Manas Ranjan Bhunia; Anbumani Ramadoss of the Paattali Makkal Katchi ; Sushil Kumar Gupta of the Aam Aadmi Party; and Mahendra Prasad of the Janata Dal (United).
On Monday, the House was informed that Subhasish Chakraborty and Sukhendu Sekhar Ray of the Trinamool Congress had also sought permission to stay away for the duration of the session, which ends on October 1, on health grounds.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, both Houses of Parliament have made extensive arrangements to ensure that physical distancing and other health protocols in place for preventing the spread of the virus are adhered to.
Rajya Sabha proceedings are being held between 9am and 1pm; some of the members have to sit in galleries as well as the Lok Sabha chambers to follow the physical distancing requirement. MPs also had to undergo a mandatory Covid-19 test before being allowed to attend the session, which got underway on Monday.
Rajya Sabha members raised the issue of an oxygen shortfall in several states. Congress’s Digvijay Singh said oxygen prices had gone up from Rs 10 to Rs 50 per cubic metre. In Devas, Madhya Pradesh, four patients died due to the lack of oxygen; Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have seen an increase in prices as well, he said.
“The Essential Commodities Act is being amended. The heath minister did not address the issue of oxygen shortage in his statement,” Singh said.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhagwat Karad also stressed the need for adequate oxygen supplies.