Centre blinks, announces plan for a ‘regular’ Winter Session

The Hindu Businessline, November 22, 2017

A day after the Opposition lambasted the Centre over delay in convening Winter Session of Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said here on Wednesday that a regular session will be held such that it doesn’t overlap with the schedule of Gujarat Assembly elections.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) met here on the possible dates for convening the session. Indications are that the Cabinet will recommend to President Ram Nath Kovind that the Winter Session be held from December 15 to January 5. The Centre may also consider a four-five day recess during the Christmas holidays.

Effectively, the session will be held for about 12 days, a government source indicated. In that scenario, the House will be convened only after the Gujarat Assembly polls. The last phase of polling is on December 14.

Talking to reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet, Jaitley said the Winter Session schedule will not overlap with the Gujarat polls. He added that in a democracy, when elections are on, political parties address the people directly. “Normally the elections and Parliament session don’t overlap. Therefore, we are going to ensure that a regular Winter Session is held, but elections and session dates don’t overlap,” he said.

President’s address

When asked if the session that begins in December can continue in January without the customary address of the President, Jaitley said the custom is that if the session spills over to January, it is not considered a fresh (second) session. “The President addresses the first session of a calendar year,” he added.

The Congress has been saying the BJP is scared of facing Parliament, and hence avoiding convening a session. The BJP said the Congress had also delayed or curtailed the session in the past for various reasons.

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