Despite the death of a sitting MP, Rajya Sabha chose to work on Tuesday rather than adjourn for the day as is the norm. While the deaths of IUML member E Ahmed in 2017 and CPI MP Kalyan Ray in 1984 were cited as precedents when Parliament had functioned despite the death of one of its members, PM Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Japan for the G20 summit remained the most important consideration in building consensus on the matter.
Rajasthan BJP MP Madan Lal Saini died on Monday and for much of Monday evening there was belief in the RS secretariat that the House would adjourn for the day after obituary references to the deceased MP as per convention. However, sources said that after it was pointed out that Modi’s reply in the Upper House to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, would have to be postponed and that there was little room for it given his travel plans, calls were made to opposition leaders, trying to build a consensus.
An opposition leader said, “I got a call from the Chairman’s office asking for my views on the matter. I told them that an MP has died, that too one from the ruling party. If despite that the government is not in favour of an adjournment, that is their call, provided of course, there is precedent. There was clearly very little room to reschedule the Prime Minister’s reply.”
RS secretariat sources said that two precedents were found. In 1984, when CPI MP Kalyan Ray had died, the Rajya Sabha adjourned just for one hour and resumed business as the session was coming to a close and there was pending legislative business. In 2017, when former UPA minister E Ahmed suffered a cardiac arrest during President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to the joint sitting of the two Houses, it threatened to derail the government’s plan to present the Budget on the first day of February rather than the last day. Despite some opposition, Lok Sabha was not adjourned for the day.