Parties not in favour of Parliament session, says Centre; Opposition denies
The opposition parties on Tuesday alleged that they were not consulted by the government over its move to scrap the winter session, insisting that Parliament should meet to discuss the ongoing farmers’ protests over the three controversial agriculture laws.
Senior Congress leader and former union minister Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter to claim that Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad was not consulted by the government on the issue.
The remarks came in the wake of a letter written by parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi to Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on December 14 informing him that leaders of all political parties were in favour of doing away with the winter session of Parliament in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation.
Hindustan Times was first to report on November 16 that the rising cases of covid-19 infections in Delhi have cast a shadow on the winter session, which normally begins in December, and the government is mulling to club it with the budget session that begins at the end of January.
“Mr Pralhad Joshi is as usual departing from the truth,” Ramesh tweeted.
When asked if his party had been consulted on the issue, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien replied, “Consulted? Are you joking?”
In the past few weeks, the opposition parties have stepped up their demand for holding the winter session in view of the ongoing farmers’ agitation over three new farm laws, saying the government should repeal these legislations and hold fresh discussions on reforms in the agricultural sector.
Members of Parliament (MPs) of the Congress from Punjab have been on a sit-in protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for the past several days, urging the government to immediately convene the Parliament to repeal the farm laws and discuss the farmers’ issue.
Over the past few days, they have been joined by many other Congress leaders.
In his reply to Chowdhury’s letter to him demanding immediate convening of the winter session to discuss the new farm laws, Joshi said that the leaders of all parties were not in favour of it due to the Covid-19 situation.
“Winter months are very crucial for managing the pandemic because of recent spurt in cases during this period, particularly in Delhi. At present, we are in the middle of December and a Covid vaccine is expected very soon. In this regard, I have informally contacted floor leaders of various political parties and they have expressed their concerns about the ongoing pandemic and opined of doing away with winter session,” the parliamentary affairs minister said.
He said the government was willing to have the next session of Parliament at the earliest. “It would be appropriate to have the budget session, 2021 in January, keeping in mind the unprecedented circumstances created by Covid-19 pandemic,” Joshi added.