Members of the bicameral legislature in Bihar will assemble here on Monday to take part in a truncated, day-long monsoon session, which may be the last occasion for the Houses to meet before the expiry of the legislative assembly’s tenure in November.
To be held under the shadow of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the session will mark the first occasion of legislative business being held away from the Vidhan Sabha premises. In a notification issued last week, Governor Fagu Chauhan permitted holding of the session at the modern, spick and span ‘Gyan Bhavan’ complex, which is a stone’s throw from the historic Gandhi Maidan.
The change of venue was necessitated by concerns regarding adherence to social distancing, which has become a must in the wake of the pandemic. The 243-strong assembly will meet at a huge hall situated on the second floor of the Gyan Bhavan, which has a seating capacity for 800 people.
The 75-member legislative council, wherein 20 seats are lying vacant, will meet at a smaller hall, which can accommodate 100 people. The governor’s notification, which followed a cabinet approval, had proposed a four-day schedule for the legislature, but a decision to cut it short was taken at an all-party meeting chaired by Vidhan Sabha Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary on Saturday.
The decision to truncate the session was taken in view of the explosive rate at which COVID-19 has been spreading, of late, across the state, most notably in the capital city. Earlier, in March when the Houses were meeting for the budget session, it had to be cut short nearly a fortnight ahead of schedule because of the pandemic, which had then begun to rear its head in the country.
According to a communication received from the Vidhan Sabha secretariat, facilities like face masks, sanitisers and antigen testing kits will be available at Gyan Bhavan during the day for those in need of these. In view of the heavy vehicular traffic expected at Gyan Bhavan, the district administration has clamped prohibitory orders in the surrounding area.
Legislature sessions in Bihar remain in news for happenings on the floor of the Houses as well as frenetic political activities outside. Members staging demonstrations carrying placards inscribed with colorful slogans, holding impromptu press conferences and reaching the premises atop vehicles decorated in unconventional ways are a routine sight. The citizenry would be eager to watch how things turn out at the Gyan Bhavan, which unlike the Vidhan Sabha premises, does not have a sprawling lawn.