Coronavirus Update: Parliament may close today, 3 Opposition parties decide to stay away
Signalling its intent for an early closure of the session, the government has listed the Finance Bill for passage in Lok Sabha on Monday. Last week, it was dropped from the list of business while four other bills were added to government agenda.Updated: Mar 23, 2020 08:03 IST
Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla has called a meeting of the government and Opposition leaders at 1.30pm on Monday in his chamber to decide on an early closure of the budget session in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
A senior official said there was little possibility of continuing the session especially after a lockdown was announced in several states and health experts’ emphasis against large gatherings.
“Only the Finance Bill 2020 must be passed before the session is adjourned. The Finance Bill, a money bill, requires Lok Sabha approval and just a mention in Rajya Sabha,” said an official.
Signalling its intent for an early closure of the session, the government has listed the Finance Bill for passage in Lok Sabha on Monday. Last week, it was dropped from the list of business while four other bills were added to government agenda.
The decision came on a day the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the second-largest opposition party in Parliament, and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) asked MPs to return to their constituencies.
Pointing out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of the urgent need for social distancing and urged those above 65 to not step out, the TMC’s letter said, “In a health emergency like this, it is essential for MPs to be back in their states and constituencies, assuaging fears of the citizens.”
Hours later, the NCP announced that it, too, wants it lawmakers to remain where they are. “Request all MPs of NCP - LS [Lok Sabha] & RS [Rajya Sabha] not go back to Delhi, please stay where you are and assist Govt [government] agencies help citizens to fight the #Coronavirus pandemic,” NCP chief Sharad Pawar tweeted.
The Shiv Sena followed suit. “Keeping the Covid-19 situation in mind, all Shiv Sena MPs won’t be attending Parliament from today. The decision has been taken by our party chief and CM Uddhav Thackeray for helping the government to fight this pandemic,” Sena leader Sanjay Raut tweeted.
On Monday, the House will not have question hour or zero hour and may straightaway take up the Finance Bill. Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi met Birla on Saturday and discussed the demand for curtailing the session.