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March 31, 2020
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Covid: Parliament adjourned sine die 11 days before schedule

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Parliament was adjourned sine die on Monday, 11 days before its Budget Session was scheduled to conclude, in view of the intensifying nationwide measures to encourage social distancing to combat the coronavirus.

IMAGE: Parliament House illuminated on Monday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill, a crucial budget legislation, without a discussion after the leaders of all political parties agreed to forgo a debate due to an ‘extraordinary situation’, a term used by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal in the Lower House.

The government had last week claimed that the session will continue in accordance with its schedule, asserting that parliamentarians should be seen doing their job when emergency workers, including medical and airline staff, were doing theirs.

IMAGE: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the Parliament on Monday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

However, tightening measures to curb people’s movement in many parts of the country led to an increasing call from the parliamentarians for curtailing the session with some parties, including the Trinamool Congress and the Shiv Sena, asking their members to withdraw from its proceedings.

Some MPs also went into a self-quarantine over the suspicion that they had come in contact with people infected by the virus.

IMAGE: BJP MP Satya Pal Singh Baghel, left, offers sanitiser liquid to other MPs at the Parliament during ongoing Budget Session, in New Delhi, on Monday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked the government to announce a financial package for those hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Some Congress members clapped for a few seconds when Chowdhury was speaking about the financial package.

IMAGE: BJP MP Vijay Goel wears a mask at the Parliament on Monday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader T R Baalu said there was an excruciatingly painful situation in the country due to the coronavirus outbreak and sought a financial package.

While the House was adjourned soon after the bill was passed, the Rajya Sabha debated the budgets for the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, bid farewell to its retiring members and then returned the Finance Bill without a discussion, before being adjourned.

IMAGE: TRS MP Keshav Rao, left, is seen wearing a mask at the Parliament on Monday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The Budget Session was divided into two phases. The first phase began on January 31 and concluded on February 11.

The second phase, which commenced on March 2, was to conclude on April 3.

IMAGE: BJP MP Satya Pal Singh Baghel, right, offers sanitiser to other MPs at the Parliament. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The first week of the second phase was largely a washout as the government turned down the Opposition’s demand for a discussion on last month’s communal violence in northeast Delhi.

Both Houses discussed the violence after Holi, during which Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that the government will not spare the culprits.

IMAGE: BJP MP Manoj Tiwari seen at the Parliament covering his face. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Before adjourning the proceedings sine die on Monday, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla stressed the need for social distancing and efforts to tackle the pandemic.

The members of the Lower House also clapped to express their gratitude to those working to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, including medical professionals.

IMAGE: BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinah. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy introduced two bills in the House — the Rashtriya Raksha University Bill and the National Forensic Sciences University Bill.

In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu led the members in paying tributes to the 57 members from 20 states, who would be retiring in the coming months on the completion of their terms.

Naidu said the outbreak of the dreaded coronavirus across the globe and the efforts to curb its spread were a major contemporary issue the House needed to take note of.

IMAGE: Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor at the Parliament on Monday. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)(PTI23-03-2020 000250B)t. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

“The efforts of the central and state governments and the people of our country are particularly noteworthy,” he added.

Naidu said March 22 was a ‘Super Sunday for our country’ and the voluntary curfew observed by people for 14 hours to contain the spread of the virus was ‘unprecedented and heartwarming’.

“The people of our country rose in unison to the call of national duty in this hour of crisis,” he said.

Parliament also commemorated the martyrdom day of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, and paid tributes to the security personnel who were recently killed in an encounter with Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

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