An eight-day monsoon session of the Karnataka legislature began in Bengaluru’s Vidhana Soudha today (Monday) in the backdrop of the Covid 19 pandemic that has seen well over five lakh cases reported in the state.
Many restrictions are in place, including compulsory Covid negative certificate for entry into both the Houses at the Vidhana Soudha. This applies to the MLAs, MLCs, bureaucrats, staff and media personnel.
Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa — who contracted the virus and has since recovered — is in favour of shortening the session because of COVID-19. “Because of the current situation about 55 to 60 MLAs have not been able to attend today. In this situation – it would be better to discuss the most important issues and end the session earlier. I will make this request to the Opposition,” he said. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Ashwath Narayan are among the several Ministers and legislators who have tested positive for the infection.
But the opposition Congress — eyeing to corner the B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government on a host of issues, including management of the pandemic — wants the eight-day session to be extended.
“There are lot of issues to be discussed. About 30 bills have been tabled, on the way to being tabled. There are a lot of ordinances that are against the sentiments of the state. We have made a different strategy after I took over as President. 1,600 questions have been given by our Congress members in Council and Assembly. They are supposed to answer them. There are a lot of corrupting issues to be taken up. Handling of Corona, corruption in handling Corona. Even the rain havoc, GST. We want to discuss all this. But the chief minister called me and the Opposition leader and they want to curtail this for 3 days. We will oppose it. We want to extend the session for one more week,” KPCC state chief DK Shivakumar said, accusing the BJP government of using Covid crisis as an excuse to avoid answering questions.
The Janata Dal Secular has also expressed doubts over the safety of those attending the session. “In this situation it is psychologically difficult and we don’t have the courage. I had to convince my people at home before coming here. We don’t know which of the 224 legislators have Covid and the proceeding are in an AC hall. We have asked questions and that discussion is important. But I don’t see the session going on for more than 3 or 4 days,” JD S leader Sa Ra Mahesh said.
Karnataka is the second-most affected by the disease with 98,583 active cases. Over four lakh people have been cured and discharged in the State apart from 7,922 deaths owing to the disease.