Parliament's Monsoon Session may be cut-short as coronavirus COVID-19 cases see massive surge

The Monsoon session started on September 14 and was scheduled to conclude on October 1. 

Parliament's Monsoon Session may be cut-short as coronavirus COVID-19 cases see massive surge
PTI Photo

NEW DELHI: The ongoing monsoon session of Parliament is likely to be curtailed as several parties on Saturday reached a consensus on wrapping up the session by next Wednesday. According to official sources, the session may end by the middle of next week in view of the threat of the COVID-19 spread among parliamentarians.

The Monsoon session started on September 14 and was scheduled to conclude on October 1. 

At a meeting of the business advisory committee of Lok Sabha, which has floor leaders of all parties besides the government representatives and is chaired by the Speaker, most political parties favoured curtailment of the session. A final decision will be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs.  

The Lok Sabha has so far passed three Bills to replace agriculture sector related ordinances. Also, both the Houses have cleared a bill to replace an ordinance for cutting by 30 per cent the salaries of MPs to ramp up funds in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far 30 MPs, including Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel, have tested positive for COVID-19 during the session. PTI quoting sources stated that some opposition parties conveyed to the government that conducting the full 18-day session could be a risky affair. "The government has started thinking in that direction," sources said.

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the parliament complex, reporters and parliamentary staff entering the premises now have to undergo the rapid antigen test mandatorily on a daily basis, according to a new protocol put in place. Besides, members of both Houses are undergoing RT-PCR tests on regular intervals on a voluntary basis, said a senior Parliament official.
A member of Parliament can undergo the RT-PCR test as many times he or she likes.

Journalists covering the monsoon session from press galleries of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha also have the option to undergo the RT-PCR test, which is valid for 72 hours. Since the result of the much reliable RT-PCR test takes time, the antigen test has been made mandatory on a daily basis.

The Budget Session was short-terminated in March after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.