Parliament session likely to be re-scheduled for December


New Delhi : The month-long parliament session that commenced Friday is likely to be adjourned Oct 24 and will be reconvened Dec 8 in view of the upcoming festive season and assembly elections in five states, sources said.

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The development follows a telephonic conversation Sunday between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party to enquire what dates would suit the party, the sources said.

According to the sources, when Advani suggested Dec 8, Mukherjee pointed out that assembly elections would be underway at that time in Jammu and Kashmir, where staggered polls will be held Nov 17-Dec 24.

Even so, Advani is said to have replied that by Dec 8, crucial polls in Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan, which are being considered the semifinal ahead of general elections early next year, would be over. In fact, the votes cast will be counted Dec 8.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee held a meeting of leaders of political parties in his chamber Monday to discuss the rescheduling but a final decision on this is yet to be taken. It was also not immediately clear how long the rescheduled session would last.

The BJP had Friday demanded that the parliament session be rescheduled in view of the Diwali festival Oct 28 and the assembly elections. The Left parties had immediately opposed this, also demanding that a full fledged winter session be called.

The rescheduling makes clear what has been known for weeks: that the government would dispense with the winter session and instead call a brief session in February 2009 to pass a vote-on-account as a full-fledged budget cannot be presented in an election year.

The winter session normally begins in mid-November and lasts till just before Christmas.

The ruling Congress is believed to be opposed to a winter session as it anticipates the opposition could move a no-confidence motion.

Toward this, the present session has been termed part two of the July 21-22 session that was called to enable the government seek a trust vote after the Left parties withdrew their support on the India-US civilian nuclear deal.

Two trust votes cannot be moved in one session.