The budget session is scheduled to end on 3 April.
The budget session is scheduled to end on 3 April.

Opposition steps up pressure on govt to cut short budget session

  • Lawmakers of two key opposition parties—the TMC and NCP—have decided to skip the rest of the budget session
  • The government hopes to conclude key legislative business, including passage of finance bills, before the session ends

NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has come under pressure from opposition parties to curtail the ongoing budget session of Parliament following the rapid spread of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown in several parts of the country including the national capital.

Lawmakers of two key opposition parties, the Trinamool Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, have decided to skip the rest of the budget session of which a fortnight remains. This is significant as the Union government has maintained that the budget session will not be curtailed.

“Request all MPs of NCP - LS & RS not (to) go back to Delhi, please stay where you are and assist Govt agencies help citizens to fight the Corona virus pandemic," NCP chief Sharad Pawar wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

TMC leaders have been demanding a curtailment of the current session. Senior leaders of the party wrote to Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Sunday that the party has asked all its parliamentarians to go back to their constituencies to help battle Covid-19, which is a “health emergency".

“We understand that it is important to pass the Finance Bill before the start of the fiscal year on 1 April 2020. It is already delayed and before any further damage, we urge you to take up the bill on 23 March. We cannot risk this health emergency any further," TMC said in its letter.

“They are saying the Government wants to keep Parliament running so that MPs give the nation confidence and lead by example. This is highly irresponsible. This is not the example we should be setting," it said.

The budget session, which reconvened after a three-week recess on 2 March, is scheduled to end on 3 April. The government hopes to conclude key legislative business, including passage of finance bills, before the session ends. Non-BJP members of the NDA are also suggesting that this session be cut short. “State governments are asking people not to go out of their homes. Janta curfew has been imposed on Sunday. So it is only logical to end the ongoing budget session because many MPs may not come," said a senior leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

anuja@livemint.com

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