Lok Sabha members and officials prepared for a long night on Thursday as the Lower House took up the debate on the railway budget.

For, experience had taught them that the debate could go on past midnight. In 1996, the debate on the rail budget had started in the morning on July 25 and continued till 7.17am on July 26.

Officials said Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla had asked his secretariat to ensure there was adequate food and water as well as transport facilities for the members, staff and the security personnel.

“We have been told that if the proceedings go on till very late, we can hire app-based cabs, Uber or Ola, to go back home and get the bills reimbursed,” an official said, not wishing to be named. Another official said he had got his own car so he could go home quickly and without hassles.

Some departments have chalked out an informal duty roster so that officials who work till the end of proceedings on Thursday can come in a little late on Friday.

“Some of us will go back home after 9 pm. They will be back early on Friday. Don’t forget that even if the proceedings stretch late on Thursday night, the House will resume at 11 am on Friday,” quipped a senior officer.

The MPs too have worked out with party colleagues who will stay late and who will leave early. “Almost all MPs like to participate in this debate as the railways is a key mode of transport in every constituency. Many opinion-makers had said that Parliament must function more. So, here we are all putting in extra hours to discuss a key issue of the country,” said senior Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab.

Among the officials and staff, no one is complaining about the extended schedule for the rail budget. On Tuesday, many staffers had run short of food and faced difficulty going home when the House sat till 11.15 pm for the debate on the general Budget. The next day, when Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury mentioned the issue in the House, Birla said, “Now you will get everything.”

An official in the speaker’s office, not wishing to be named, said instructions had been given to the Parliament canteen on behalf of the speaker and the rail ministry to ensure sufficient food — rice, chappati, dal and a vegetable curry — is available for all who work late.

First Published:
Jul 12, 2019 07:20 IST

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