Election dates clash with Winter Session,Centre ponders options

The schedule announced by the Election Commission for Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat has cast its shadow over the Winter Session of Parliament

Written by Pradeep Kaushal | New Delhi | Published:October 7, 2012 2:19 am

The schedule announced by the Election Commission for Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat has cast its shadow over the Winter Session of Parliament. With polling dates clashing with the normal period of the session — from the third week of November to the third week of December — the government will be forced to look at other options,including shifting the session to January.

“We will take up the issue on Monday,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told The Sunday Express. “We have not considered the matter yet,but we will discuss it at the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs and with the principal opposition party (BJP).”

While Himachal will vote on November 4,Gujarat will go to polls on December 13 and 17. The counting is slated for December 20.

There is no way the session can be advanced because election campaign has already begun in Himachal. By the time polling is over in the hilly state,it would be time for parties to turn to Gujarat.

Incidentally,the Congress and BJP,which have to take the lead in sorting out the issue,are principal players in the two states as well. Session schedules have been altered in the past to enable top political leaders and MPs from the states concerned to join election campaigns. The last Budget Session was curtailed so that people could be free for canvassing in Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Sources in the government contended that technically,there was no bar on moving the Winter Session to January. There is a precedent of the NDA regime having pushed the session to the new year. However,ideally,the first sitting of the Parliament in a new year should begin with the Presidential Address at the Budget Session.

One option could be to begin the session after polling in Gujarat,then adjourn the two Houses for a week or 10 days for Christmas,and then resume it in January.

With the ruling Congress facing resistance from some of its present and former allies and the Opposition over the introduction of 49 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail,besides other economic reform measures,everybody is anxiously waiting to see how all these,as also the latest political controversies play out in Parliament. For instance,the Trinamool Congress has threatened to bring a no-confidence motion against the government,while the DMK has undertaken to back any resolution against FDI in retail.

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