Parliament Session May End By Mid-Next Week As Covid-19 Cases Rise Among MPs
People gather at Parliament House during the first day of the 17th Lok Sabha in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T.Narayan/Bloomberg)

Parliament Session May End By Mid-Next Week As Covid-19 Cases Rise Among MPs

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The ongoing monsoon session of the parliament is likely to be cut short may end by the middle of next week, in view of the rising number of covid-positive MPs, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

At a meeting of the business advisory committee of Lok Sabha, which has floor leaders of all parties besides 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 agri sector-related ordinances. Also, both the houses have cleared a bill to replace an ordinance for cutting by 30% salaries of MPs to ramp up funds in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

After some members of parliament, including union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel, tested positive for Covid-19 during the session, some opposition parties conveyed to the government that conducting the full 18-day session could be a risky affair, the people cited above said, requesting anonymity.

The government then started thinking in that direction, they 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 tests on a daily basis, according to a new protocol put in place. Members of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are undergoing RT-PCR test on regular intervals on a voluntary basis, said a senior parliament official.

A member of parliament can undergo RT-PCR test as many times he or she likes.

Journalists covering the monsoon session from the press galleries of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha also have the option to undergo the RT-PCR test, which is valid for 72 hours.

Government officials accompanying their respective ministers during bill discussions also have to show a negative report of RT-PCR test taken within the last 72 hours of their visit to the complex.

The monsoon session of the parliament, the first during the pandemic, started on Sept. 14 and is slated to end on Oct. 1. Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are meeting in shifts of four hours each without a weekend break.

The budget session was shortened in March after the coronavirus outbreak.

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