Sonia Gandhi blasts delay in Parliament session, says govt sabotaging democracy

Accusing the Modi government of arrogance, the Congress president said the government cannot “escape constitutional accountability ahead of elections” by “locking up the temple of democracy”.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2017 23:22 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sonia Gandhi,PM Modi,GST
Congress party president Sonia Gandhi (C) presides over the Congress Working Committee meeting with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi, on Monday.(AP)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Monday of “locking up the temple of democracy” amid reports that Parliament’s winter session could be shortened because of elections in Gujarat.

Her comments, made at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), came in the backdrop of a high-stakes election next month in Modi’s state, where an intense campaign is expected to keep many top leaders of both parties away from New Delhi.

There is no official word on a shorter winter session, but Sonia Gandhi said the government was sabotaging it on flimsy grounds. Usually, Parliament meets mid-November for a month.

“The Modi government in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India’s Parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the Winter Session of Parliament on flimsy grounds,” she said.

“The government is mistaken if it thinks that by locking the temple of democracy it will escape constitutional accountability ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat,” Sonia Gandhi said.

But Union finance minister Arun Jaitley rejected the charges, saying Parliament sessions were often rescheduled in the past, even by the Congress, to ensure they did not overlap with elections.

“It has been a tradition and it has happened several times that Parliament sessions are rescheduled when an election is happening,” he told reporters here. Jaitley also said the winter session would be held and the Congress “totally exposed”.

The principal opposition party said it will hold a news conference on the issue on Tuesday. It also plans to hit the streets against the government for “eroding” parliamentary democracy.

In one of her most stringent attacks on Prime Minister Modi, Sonia Gandhi also rounded off on the government’s radical economic policies such as last year’s scrapping of high-value banknotes and a nationwide Goods and Services Tax.

She said the Prime Minister had the “audacity to hold a midnight celebration in Parliament to launch an ill-prepared and flawed GST but today he lacks the courage to face Parliament”.

Sonia Gandhi congratulated Rahul and his team for their efforts in Gujarat and asked them to do their best.

“Let us do our best to prove that people are not fooled and that they will make the right decision and defeat the present dispensation there,” she said.

The Congress chief said even after a year of note ban “demonetisation has done nothing but rub salt on the wounds of distressed farmers, small traders, housewives and daily workers”.

“The fortunes of a handful are being built by destroying the future of the poor and the oppressed,” she said, adding that joblessness and inflation were on the rise while exports were falling.

The Congress president accused the government of seeking to change the history of modern India by systematically erasing the contributions of first the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and later by Indira Gandhi.

“This vilification is blatant and for all to see,” she said.

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 13:06 IST