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Fighting for Central Hall

All in favour say aye...

CENTRAL Hall is the most happening place inside the Parliament. It’s where present and former members of both houses (Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) have informal debates, tea-coffee and South Indian lunches, etc. Leaders meet across party lines.

Senior journalists (with Special Pass) also have the privilege to go into central hall and mingle with the top leadership without any appointment. It’s where senior journalists get an indication of the mood of the ruling and opposition leadership. The cardinal rule is whatever is discussed within the walls of Central Hall is not news and cannot be reported come what may. One fine day Prakash Javadekar informed journalists that Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla is thinking of banning the entry of journalists into the Central Hall, which he later denied. Journalists rushed to meet Om Birla and discussed the issue; he informed that a committee was being formed.

Nothing moved. Journalists continued to investigate as is their wont. It was soon learnt from sources that the new vista planned by the Modi government will not have Central Hall, so the issue of entry will be over automatically. But this infuriated MPs. Parliament has a system of committees where all issues are decided. The General Purpose committee, which has 45 members of both houses and three special invitees, met on March 19, 2020 to ponder whether the New Parliament should have a Central Hall, though ostensibly the meeting was called to discuss the entry of journalists into the Central Hall. The issue did not even have a mention in the meeting. Majority of the members were in favour of a Central Hall. Observing the mood of the members, the meeting was adjourned by the Speaker. gfiles enquired on the Lok Sabha’s website and found the committee meeting was listed but the subjects-considered column was blank and nothing was mentioned in the remarks section too.

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