Parliament’s budget session is likely to be cut short and may end before the first phase of elections on March 27, while both houses will resume their normal timing of 11 am from Tuesday.
Several parties had requested that the session, which was originally scheduled to continue till April 8, be called off due to the five assembly elections being held in eight phases till April 29.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu announced the new timing for the Upper House on the first day of the second part of the budget session, sources in PTI said, adding that Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla will make a similar announcement later in the day.
The final decision on curtailing the session will also be taken by Mr Birla, who had met floor leaders of various parties on the matter earlier in the day.
Keeping in view the distancing norms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both the Houses were meeting in two shifts since the Monsoon session, with the Rajya Sabha meeting in the first part of the day and the Lok Sabha meeting in the second part.
The winter session of Parliament was not going on due to the pandemic.
Some Rajya Sabha members were sitting in the Lok Sabha chambers to observe the distancing norms. Same was the case with Lok Sabha members. Some Lok Sabha members were also sitting in the visitors’ gallery above the House Hall.
The move to return to normalcy was taken a day before the Covid vaccination campaign for Members of Parliament begins on Tuesday.
Floor leaders of various political parties on Monday urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to reduce the budget session to allow him to focus on assembly elections in four states and one union territory.
At a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the Lok Sabha, Mr Birla spoke on a one-on-one basis with various floor leaders to consider curtailing the session starting Monday.
Members of Trinamool Congress and DMK did not attend the meeting.
Parliamentary sources said the Biju Janata Dal was of the view that assembly elections are held every few months and the session should not be curtailed on this basis.
YSR Congress Party member PV Midhun Reddy said if the current session is cut short then the next session should be longer.
Some members said that around 145 members have written to the speaker demanding that the session be shortened.
In a letter to the Rajya Sabha Speaker, TMC’s national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien said that his party’s MPs would not be able to attend the Parliament session due to the elections.
He said, “I am writing to you as the leader of the All India Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party (Rajya Sabha). Sir, we urge you to consider postponing the upcoming Parliament session due to the announcement of elections in five states. ” .
“The Election Commission of India has announced elections for five states, including Bengal, on 26 February 2021. Due to the intense election preparations going on in the state, All India Trinamool Congress Members of Parliament will find it difficult to participate. From 8 March 2021 Second part of the budget session to begin,” he wrote in the letter.
TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay has also written a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker on the same issue requesting that Parliament be adjourned due to elections. While Mr. O’Brien’s letter is dated March 8, Mr. Bandyopadhyay wrote to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha on February 6.
Mr O’Brien cited two instances in his letter when parliament sessions were postponed due to elections in the states.
He gave the example of the 222nd session which began on February 21, 2011, and was scheduled to end on April 21, 2011. However, due to the upcoming state assembly elections in five states – Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West. Bengal, the House was adjourned sine die on March 25, 2011, he said.
The second instance he cited was that of the 214th session which began on 17 October 2008 and was adjourned as early as 24 October 2008 to meet again on 10 December 2008. November 21, 2008. However, due to the upcoming state assembly elections in some states, the House was adjourned till 10 December 2008.
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