New Delhi, Sep 06, 2023, Special Correspondent
New Delhi, Sep 6: Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to point out that no agenda was listed for the special Parliament session, drawing a snub from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.
"I must point out that this special session has been convened without any consultation with other political parties. None of us have any idea of its agenda. All we have been communicated is that all five days have been allocated for government business," Gandhi said in her letter to the PM.
Gandhi raised nine issues including Centre-state relations, rise in cases of communal tension, border transgressions by China and the demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to investigate the transactions of the Adani business group in light of several revelations.
"We most certainly want to participate in the Special Session because it will give us an opportunity to raise matters of public concern and importance. I earnestly hope that time will be allocated under the appropriate Rules for a discussion and debate on these issues," she said.
However, hours later, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister accused the Congress leader of trying to politicise the functioning of Parliament and create unnecessary controversy.
"It is very unfortunate that you are trying to politicise the functioning of Parliament, our temple of democracy, and create unnecessary controversy," Joshi said in his response to Gandhi's missive.
Joshi insisted that the Parliament session has been convened from September 18 after following all established procedures. Political parties are never consulted before calling a Parliament session, he said in his letter to the Congress leader.
"Perhaps, you do not pay attention to traditions. Before calling a Parliament session, neither discussions are held with political parties nor issues are ever discussed," Joshi said.
The minister said after a session is called by the President and before the commencement of the session, a meeting of all party leaders is held. In this meeting issues and functioning of Parliament are discussed, Joshi added.
On the issues listed by Gandhi for discussion in her letter to the prime minister, he said they have already been discussed and answered by the government during the debate on no-trust motion in the Monsoon session.
Joshi asserted that the agenda of the session will be circulated "at the appropriate time as per the usual practice established".
The minister said in his letter to Gandhi that he is "fully confident" that the dignity of Parliament will be maintained during the special session and it will not be used for political reasons.
According to her party colleague Jairam Ramesh, this is the first time no agenda has been discussed or listed in the business of the House.
Seeking time to hold a discussion on the nine issues raised, Gandhi wrote of the "continued agony faced by people of Manipur and breakdown of Constitutional machinery and social harmony in the State". She also brought up the rise in communal tension in different states such as Haryana.
Raising the China issue, she listed the continued occupation of Indian territory by China and "challenges to our sovereignty on our borders in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh".
Gandhi also raised the "urgent need for a caste census", a demand which the Congress and some other parties have been raising for quite some time. She listed for discussion the issues of damages inflicted on Centre-State relations and the impact of natural disasters caused by extreme floods in some states and drought in others.
Besides, the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party pointed to the current economic situation with focus on increasing price rise of essential commodities, growing unemployment, rise in inequalities and distress of MSMEs also to be discussed during the upcoming session.
Gandhi also said the commitment made by the Government of India to farmers and farmer organisations in regard to MSP and other demands raised by them also need to be discussed in Parliament. "I earnestly hope that in a spirit of constructive cooperation, these issues will be taken up in the forthcoming special session," she said.
Earlier, listing the contents of Gandhi's letter to the prime minister, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference that the prime minister is in panic and is "fatigued". He also alleged that there "autocracy" was prevailing in the country.
Attacking the prime minister, Ramesh claimed, "All his actions -- his revival of a dead NDA when our Bengaluru meeting was going on, his response to the formation of the INDIA group, his unilateral decision to call this five day session... These are all symbols of a panic-stricken administration. After nine years, it is a case of maximum fatigue, maximum panic."
He said, "We want that the upcoming session is constructive and this was decided at the meeting of the strategy group and during the meeting of INDIA parties."
The special session of Parliament will be held from September 18 to 22.
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