Parliament's Budget Session ends amid COVID-19 scare

Parliament's Budget Session ends amid COVID-19 scare

As coronavirus began spreading across India, members cutting across party lines had been demanding the curtailing of the Budget Session of Parliament that had resumed for the second part on March 2 and was scheduled to continue till April 3.

Both Houses of Parliament adjourned sine die on Monday after approving the Finance Bill without any discussion and amid demands from the opposition for a special financial package to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The Budget Session of Parliament, scheduled to end on April 3, was curtailed by 12 days amid demands from a cross-section of the lawmaker for an early adjournment citing the rapid spread of the coronavirus contagion.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu held separate meetings with floor leaders to seek their views on the early adjournment of the Session and the passage of the Finance Bill without discussion.

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“The second part of the Session has been curtailed after having consensus across party lines keeping in view the situation arising out of the spread of Covid-19 across the world, including in India,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said here.

Lok Sabha members of Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress and NCP have stayed away from Parliament to follow the call for lockdown in COVID-19 affected districts and call by experts to maintain social distancing to break the chain of transmission of the disease.

“We demand that the government immediately announce a financial package to deal with the situation arising out of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, said as the Speaker took up the Finance Bill for passing.

DMK member T R Baalu also echoed Chowdhury’s demands, seeking intervention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was present in the Lok Sabha.

The Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill within 20 minutes, while the Rajya Sabha also returned the Bill without any discussion.

As coronavirus began spreading across India, members cutting across party lines had been demanding the curtailing of the Budget Session of Parliament that had resumed for the second part on March 2 and was scheduled to continue till April 3.

However, the government was keen on continuing the Session as per schedule but after taking due precautions to discourage crowding in Parliament, by shutting off the premises for visitors.

Last week, Parliament was in the grip of a scare after BJP member Dushyant Singh, who had come in contact with singer Kanika Kapoor who tested positive for COVID-19, mingled with fellow lawmakers and even attended a breakfast meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind.

Singh underwent COVID-19 tests which turned out to be negative, but has put himself in self-isolation. Besides Singh, Apna Dal member Anupriya Patel who also attended the breakfast meeting with the President along with Singh, went into self-isolation.

Two BJP members — V Muraleedharan and Suresh Prabhu also went into self-isolation as a precautionary measure. While Prabhu placed himself under quarantine after a trip to Saudi Arabia, Muraleedharan had visited a hospital in Kerala treating COVID-19 patients. Both the BJP leaders have been tested negative for the COVID-19.