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Rajya Sabha MPs demand to curtail budget session due to coronavirus scare, chairman Naidu says members can take preventive arrangements

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Parliament should not show panic by adjourning early and instead show the fighting spirit.

Rajya Sabha MPs of opposition on Wednesday demanded adjournment of ongoing budget session in view of the outbreak of coronavirus epidemic. Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said a decision on it will be taken by the government in consultation with stakeholders.

The Trinamool Congress members entered the parliament wearing face masks, but Venkaiah Naidu ordered them to remove those immediately. He said rules do not allow members to sport masks in the House because it will be difficult to conduct proceedings if the chair was defied and asked the TMC members to remove them.

Congress leader P Chidambaram urged the Chairman to allow MPs to decide using protective gear according to their perception of vulnerability. The Chair agreed and said, “if members feel vulnerable they can make preventive arrangements, I leave it to the members”.

The opposition MPs suggested that the budget session should be adjourned to practice a basic preventive measure of social distancing that is already being advocated by the government to limit the spread of coronavirus. The Congress MP Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter and wrote “today Parliament security started conducting fever checks on occupants of all entering the premises, causing long lines of 25-30 cars outside the gate at the time. The problem is fever only starts on Day 3 of #COVID19. Carriers may still be coming in. We really need to adjourn.

M V Rajeev Gowda of the Congress urged the government to adjourn the budget session saying that Rajya Sabha had many senior citizens as MPs who are extremely vulnerable to infection of the novel coronavirus. His senior party colleague Anand Sharma accused the government that it is preaching social distancing but it is not following it in parliament.

However, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Parliament should not show panic by adjourning early and instead show the fighting spirit.

Naidu clarified that Parliament house complex has been sanitized and temperature checking is being done at the gates before allowing anyone inside. Also, hand sanitizers have been kept at various points. Two sanitizers were also placed inside the house as well. He assured that MPs can make strengthening measures in the parliament house complex to check the spread of COVID-19.

Congress MP from Rajya Sabha Ripun Bora highlighted the repercussions faced by people due to the high price of sanitizers and masks amid the coronavirus scare. he urged the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to monitor the supply, and ensure their availability and proper prices so that there is no panic among the public.

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