Only 12 working days, Oppn wants winter session extended

FrontAt the all-party meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday. Anil Sharma

The short winter session of Parliament from December 5 to 20 may be extended into January following a unanimous demand from the opposition. The two Houses normally sit for a month in winter.

"There is unanimity among parties for extending the session after a one-week Christmas-break," Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said after a meeting of floor leaders convened by Speaker Meira Kumar on Tuesday.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said a decision will be taken after consulting Rajya Sabha members as well as MPs from the Northeast and the south. He said there was a consensus at the meeting that the session was "too short". The opposition argued the session had only 12 working days, of which three were Fridays meant for private members' business.

While the government has lined up 38 bills for passage, the highlight is likely to be the Bill aimed at creating Telangana. "Our government is committed to the formation of Telangana and it will be our effort to make full use of due process of law to ensure that Telangana does come about," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters after attending a post-meeting lunch hosted by the Speaker.

As of now, the Telangana Bill does not figure in the agenda outlined by the government for the session. "We had told the government at a meeting last night also that the Telangana Bill must be brought in the session," Swaraj said.

The Prime Minister said the government was in touch with opposition parties for a smooth passage of essential bills. Finance Minister P Chidambaram is likely to meet Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley soon to discuss the Insurance Bill and Direct Tax Code. The BJP is opposed to the government's plan to increase the FDI cap in insurance from 26 to 49 per cent.

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