New Delhi: The Parliament’s Monsoon session is likely to be curtailed and may come to an end by the middle of next week in view of the threat of the COVID-19 spread among parliamentarians, official sources said on Saturday (September 19).

During a meeting of the Lok Sabha’s business advisory committee, which has floor leaders of all parties besides the government representatives and is chaired by the Speaker, most political parties favoured curtailment of the session.

The Monsoon session began on September 14 and is slated to end on October 1.

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs will take a final decision.

The government wanted to take all parties on board and also get 11 ordinances passed as laws by Parliament before taking any final decision, sources added.

The Lok Sabha has so far passed three Bills to replace agriculture sector related ordinances. Also, both the Houses have cleared a bill to replace an ordinance for cutting by 30% the salaries of MPs to ramp up funds in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources said that that amid some Members of Parliament, testing positive for COVID-19 during the session, opposition parties conveyed to the government that conducting the full 18-day session could be a risky affair.

The government then started thinking in that direction, the sources said.

Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel have tested positive for COVID-19. Both had attended the ongoing session which began on September 14.

Several MPs had also tested positive for COVID-19 around the time the session began, and they were advised not to attend proceedings.

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the parliament complex, reporters and parliamentary staff entering the premises now have to undergo the rapid antigen test mandatorily on a daily basis, according to a new protocol put in place.

Besides, members of both Houses are undergoing RT-PCR tests on regular intervals on a voluntary basis, said a senior Parliament official.

A member of Parliament can undergo the RT-PCR test as many times he or she likes.

The session began on September 14 and is slated to end on October 1. Both houses are meeting in shifts of four hours each without the customary Saturday-Sunday weekend break.

The Budget Session was short-terminated in March after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

(With inputs from agency)