The already shortened monsoon session of parliament that began this week may be reduced further after 30 members of parliament tested positive for COVID-19, CNN-News18 reported.
The Business Advisory Committee (BAC) met at 5 pm on Saturday (September 19), at the behest of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, to take a decision on the issue. Most lawmakers, cutting across party lines, seemed to agree on ending the session next week.
“We will ask for a curtailed session. We cannot risk lives,” said a representative of a political party while heading for the meeting. Another BAC member said his party would go with the decision of the speaker.
The truncated parliament session started on September 14 and was supposed to continue till October 1, but a steady increase in the number of MPs testing positive for the viral infection has prompted the speaker to suggest cutting it short further.
The government too is keen to finish the session early but is waiting to see through the passage of the contentious agriculture reforms bills in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday. A minister told CNN-News18, “It was a very difficult decision to hold a session in the midst of a pandemic, but we are bound by a constitutional duty. It is important for us to pass the ordinances, otherwise those will lapse. We will take a call after Sunday to see what can be done.”
Two Union ministers — Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Singh Patel — tested positive while they were attending parliament. Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe also tested positive the day after he attended parliament where he had even participated in a discussion. More than 250 secretariat employees and several media personnel who went to cover the session also tested positive.
India recorded 93,337 new infections in the last 24 hours. The country remains the second worst-affected country after the United States, with the total recorded cases at 5.3 million. The total death toll on Saturday stands at 85,619.