Karnataka assembly session to be cut short as Covid-19 cases continue to surge
The government has promised that it would allow detailed discussion on some of the contentious bills including those related to land reforms, APMC, amendments to electricity act and purchase of equipment for Covid-19 care.Updated: Sep 22, 2020, 00:21 IST
The monsoon session of the Karnataka assembly that began on Monday has been cut short amidst growing concerns of increasing Covid-19 cases in the state. Instead of the 10 days till September 30, which was the original duration of the session, it has now been truncated to six days after the government finally managed to convince the opposition and will now end on September 26.
Earlier CM BS Yediyurappa had appealed to the opposition to curtail the session to a mere three days pointing out that nearly 55-60 of the 225 MLA’s in the assembly could not attend as they had been infected. Though administration officials said that extraordinary precaution has been taken to ensure safety measures are in place, there was concern among both leaders and officials.
Finally at the Business Advisory Committee meeting, leader of opposition Siddaramaiah who till then had even called for extending the session to three weeks, agreed to cutting it short. In turn the government has promised that it would allow detailed discussion on some of the contentious bills including those related to land reforms, APMC, amendments to electricity act and purchase of equipment for Covid-19 care. The government is looking to pass at least 38 bills.
Siddaramaiah said that the APMC act was a “death sentence” for the farming community in the state. “Unable to control the pandemic and misusing the occasion, the government is bent on destroying agriculture which has been one ray of hope,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, thousands of farmers took to the streets of Bangalore protesting against the government’s proposed changes in the land reforms act which would permit non-agriculturists to purchase farm land. They are also protesting against changes proposed in the electricity act, APMC and are demanding adequate compensation for farmers who have lost crops due to recent floods.
The amendments in the APMC act allow farmers to directly sell to private players circumventing the 160 APMCs in the state. This some farmer organisations would put farmers at a disadvantage. They have threatened to launch a state wide bandh on Friday in case the contentious bills and amendments are not withdrawn.
The opening day of the session also witnessed an unseemly fight between a ruling party MLA from Kadur, Belli Prakash and minister for horticulture Narayana Gowda over release of some funds and transfer of officials, creating embrassment for the government. Though later on both BJP legislators tried to underplay the incident claiming it was just “differences between brothers” the opposition said that this was an indication of the inefficiency and chaos in the government.
Nearly 10 members of the BS Yediyurappa cabinet including deputy CM CN Ashwath Narayan, home minister Basvaraj Bommai, among others - have tested Covid-19 positive or are under isolation. Several opposition leaders too, including former minister and Congress leader Priyank Kharge, have tested positive for coronavirus and are in isolation.
The state which till now has recorded more than half a million Covid-19 positive cases said on Monday that it had identified 7,339 new cases and 8,145 people have died till now due to Coronavirus. Earlier in the day, responding to a question on cabinet expansion, CM Yediyurappa had said that he is awaiting directions from the party high command.