Winter session of Parliament set to be postponed due to state polls

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Hindustan Times, October 16, 2018

Polling will take place in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram on November 28, in Chhattisgarh on November 12 and 20 and in Telangana and Rajasthan on December 7; counting for all five-states will be on December 11.

The winter session of Parliament could be scheduled for December, after the end of five state elections, people familiar with the matter said on Monday. This will be the second year in a row when the winter session starts in December. Last year, the session, which usually starts in November every year, began in December on account of elections in Gujarat.

The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) is expected to meet next week to take a call on the issue, said one of the people, a Parliament functionary who asked not to be named, adding that there is a precedence to defer the session to avoid an overlap with the elections. The office of the minister of parliament affairs declined to comment on the issue.

Polling will take place in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram on November 28, in Chhattisgarh on November 12 and 20, and in Telangana and Rajasthan on December 7; counting for all five states will be on December 11.

“When elections were held to pick new assemblies in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in 2017, which also coincided with the winter session, it was decided to commence the session a day after Gujarat polling concluded. This was done to allow parties to focus on campaigning,” said another person familiar with the matter.

Members of both the BJP and the Congress said that the possibility of moving the winter session to after the polling dates, has not been discussed.

“There is a possibility that the dates of the session will be moved to allow parties to campaign, since the state elections are being billed as the semi-final to the 2019 general election and most parties will depute all their senior leaders who are also Parliamentarians to these election-bound states,” the functionary added.

The opposition will likely raise issues such as the Rafale deal, farmer protests, the price rise, and the arrest of civil rights activists during the session.

The government will be looking to complete some legislative business during the session. There are two ordinances, one on the disbanding of the Medical Council of India and the other making Triple Talaq illegal that need to be converted to laws.

The government is also hopeful of introducing the draft personal data protection bill that mandates explicit consent for processing sensitive personal information. Among the bills pending in the lower house are the The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2018, The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018, and The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2018, and The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018.

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