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Parliament to meet one last time in February

A Correspondent in New Delhi | December 17, 2008 16:20 IST

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The secret is out. Another Parliament session will be held in February and the current session is not the last before elections are held.

Home Minister P Chidambaram let out the secret in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday while moving the twin anti-terror legislations for consideration and passage.

"Any important and necessary changes felt necessary in these laws can be made when we meet in February again," he said while urging passage of the Bills despite reservations that members may have to demonstrate that all are united in the war against terrorism.

Extending support to the Bills in principle, Opposition leader L K Advani [Images] seized the official disclosure of the session in February to urge not to pass them now but refer both the Bills to the Standing Committee of the House that is meant to examine in depth all important Bills and let its report come in February to enable the House pass them with necessary changes to remove any lacuna.

He, however, initiated the debate, making it clear that his Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance support both the Bills and they are with the government on whatever "right and necessary" steps it takes in the war against terrorism. He added that he has reservations on the Bills, "not on principles, but on inadequacies."

Advani said the Standing Committee will be able to examine all aspects of the Bills and come back to the House in February and there should be no difficulty in passing them when both the government and the main Opposition agree in principle. He was expecting this to be the last session before the polls, but he felt the need of referring the Bills to the Standing Committee once it was officially said that there will be another session in February, he said.

Science Minister Kapil Sibal, who spoke the next, injected politics to rile Advani for the credits he gave to the BJP-led NDA in all it did to fight terrorism, including enactment of POTA. On Advani's suggestion of the Standing Committee route to pass the Bills, Sibal accused him of double standards. The NDA rushed in POTA through an ordinance, without even thinking of taking views of members in Parliament on such a serious law, he said.

Until Chidambaram talked of another session in February shortly before 2 PM, the Parliament galleries were agog with speculation that the longest session of the Lok Sabha that began on July 21 and continues with big breaks may go on further into January to enable passage of all the laws the government wants to enact to fight the menace of terrorism and to pass a vote-on-account to take care of the government budget until June end.

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