The Opposition’s case for holding virtual meetings of parliamentary committees weakened significantly with most of its newly elected MPs attending the oath-taking ceremony on Wednesday. Of the 61 newly elected members of the Rajya Sabha, 45 were administered the oath of office by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. Among those who took oath were senior leaders like the Nationalist Congress
Party’s Sharad Pawar, and the Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge and Digvijaya Singh.
However, none of the four Trinamool Congress’s (TMC's) newly elected MPs turned up. TMC MP Derek O’Brien, who is also the Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, has already written to Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, quoting several rules of procedure of the two Houses, which, he says, empower them to allow virtual meetings. He pointed out a precedent when the joint committee on salary and allowances of MPs held two virtual meetings on April 6 to decide on reducing salaries. Naidu and Birla, however, have until now resisted sustained and strident demands from the Opposition MPs to allow virtual meetings.