No winter session due to COVID, budget sitting in January, says govt

While govt says it has taken the decision after discussions with floor leaders of various political parties, the Congress alleges it was not taken into confidence

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Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury questioned the government’s decision and said when Assembly sessions were being held why Parliament should be exempted. He also said that he never suggested not holding the session.

The winter session of the Parliament will not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has confirmed.

In his reply to Congress’ Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s letter, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the floor leaders of various political parties had opined about scrapping the winter session.

“Winter months are very crucial for managing the pandemic because of recent spurt in cases during this period, particularly in Delhi,” Joshi wrote to Chowdhury, after he had written urging the winter session to be convened to discuss the new farm laws, farmers’ protest among other issues.

Also read: New Parliament building will be ‘beacon of a new, self-reliant India’: Modi

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Joshi said the government is willing to hold the Budget session in January 2021.

“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 government is 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,” he added.

Chowdhury questioned the government’s decision and said when Assembly sessions were being held why Parliament should be exempted. He also said that he never suggested not holding the session.

“I have never suggested that the session should not be held. In many states, Assembly sessions are being held. Why should Parliament enjoy the exemption when, in the same country, Assembly sessions are being held? It is simply a fig leaf to hide the failures of this government – the government is hesitant because it does not want to reply to anything in Parliament,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh too questioned Joshi and wrote on Twitter that the leader of the Opposition in the Upper House was not consulted. “The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha was NOT consulted. Mr. Pralhad Joshi is as usual departing from the truth. @JoshiPralhad (sic).”

In September, the monsoon session was held during the peak of the pandemic. And, it was being said that the session was conducted only to pass the farm bills, which have now led to protests by farmers.

Joshi said the monsoon session was “one of the most productive sessions”. In his letter to Chowdhury, he said, “You are aware that the Monsoon Session was slightly delayed, and was held in September 2020 due to extraordinary situation arising out of Covid-19 pandemic, following all precautionary protocols…. the Session proved to be one of the most productive sessions of Parliament, with 27 Bills passed by both Houses in 10 continuous sittings.”

Last month, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had said that the Lok Sabha secretariat is prepared to hold the winter session.

“The Lok Sabha secretariat is prepared to hold the parliament session. As far as dates are concerned, it is decided by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs,” Birla said.

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