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The New Parliament Has a “Automated System” Despite “Mic Muted” Rows, according to sources

A number of elements, including a “automated system” to turn off an MP’s microphone at the end of the time given for their speech, are included in the new Parliament, into which India’s legislators will transition tomorrow, insiders told NDTV on Monday. A biometric security system and a smaller Well are other elements, according to sources, which will limit the extent of any protests by opposition lawmakers.

There will be stiffer access requirements for journalists in the new Parliament, which will also be “paperless” and each MP will receive a tablet computer. Six gates, including the elephant and Garuda, the eagle that serves as Vishnu’s steed, are also part of the structure. They are named after various (some real, some mythological) species.

The move to a “automated system” follows accusations that the government prevents opposition leaders from speaking by turning off their microphones. These accusations were most recently made last month, during the previous session of Parliament, when the opposition was calling for a parliamentary investigation into the Hindenburg report, which accuses the Adani Group of financial wrongdoing.

That was emphasised by the leader of the Congress and the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, who also charged that the administration was “insulting” him. The accusation was refuted by the government’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which pointed to a “technical fault”.

When Speaker Om Birla implored MPs to maintain order and decorum, the microphones were finally turned on, according to a video the Congress shared online. According to sources, the BJP also determined that Congressman Rahul Gandhi would hold off on speaking until he apologised for remarks he made in London.

Mr. Gandhi asserted in March that when opposition leaders get up to speak, microphones that might ordinarily work are frequently turned off. “Our microphones are in good working order, yet you still cannot turn them on. I’ve had that happen to me several times, he stated in London.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke for 51 minutes this morning to begin a five-day special session of Parliament. He alternated between criticising the opposition and praising his own administration while also bringing up the G20 conference and the Chandrayaan-3 Moon mission.

The Prime Minister also recalled “bitter-sweet memories” connected to the old building, including the terror incident of 2001, in his protracted speech, which included numerous barbs at the opposition and a joke about the “cash for votes” scam under the Manmohan Singh administration.

However, considering that the bill changing terms of appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners has been temporarily withdrawn, a potentially combustible first day seems improbable.

The administration removed the law, which would have demoted the CEC and the members of his panel from the rank of Supreme Court judges to that of cabinet secretaries, even though it had been scheduled for passage during the special session.

However, there are eight additional legislation that are still on the agenda.

In the meantime, ahead of a cabinet meeting this evening, PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah met with senior union ministers. JP Nadda, the head of the BJP, was also present during these exchanges.

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