Spl session of Parliament: Agenda under wraps
Subhasish Mitra (Wide Angle)
Mystery shrouds the agenda of the upcoming special session of Parliament from September 18 to 22. The session will come close on the heels of the G-20 Summit in New Delhi on September 10.
The session was announced by the Union government on August 31, but no agenda was revealed leading to a war of words between the Government and the Congress.
In a post on the microblogging site X (formerly Twitter), Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the Special Session would have five sittings, and amid Amrit Kaal (the Prime Minister’s description of the 25 years leading to 100 years of Independence), the government was looking forward to having fruitful discussions and debate in Parliament.
The Opposition said the sudden decision was meant to divert public attention from media reports exposing the Adani Group and the INDIA meeting.
A war of words broke out between Union minister Pralhad Joshi and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh over procedures related to Parliament sessions.
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi wrote to PM Narendra Modi about the Opposition not being kept in the loop on the upcoming special session of Parliament.
Responding to Ramesh’s charges that the previous governments had informed the agenda for special sessions in advance, Joshi accused him of twisting facts about constitutional provisions.
Ramesh had claimed that the agenda of every special session in the past was well known in advance and alleged that it was only the Modi government that “distorts” parliamentary conventions. He also cited past occasions such as the convening of a joint special session at the Central Hall on GST implementation on the midnight of June 30, 2017.
“A special session of the Lok Sabha was called in July 2008 for a trust vote after the Left parties withdrew support to the UPA-1 government. A special session was also called from August 26 to September 1 in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of India’s independence,” he pointed out.
But, seeking to trash Ramesh’s claims, Joshi wrote, “The summoning of Parliament is the greatest boon in a democracy. However, there is a lobby of compulsive contrarians who oppose the same. ‘A compulsive contrarian may be a master of doubt, but they often miss the beauty of certainty founded in truth’,” he said.
On September 6, Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi to point out that the agenda for the special session of Parliament has not been shared with Opposition parties.
Gandhi listed nine issues that the Opposition wanted to discuss during the five-day session.
These issues include the continuing violence in Manipur, the rise in prices of essential commodities, unemployment, the need for a caste census, the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to look into the Adani Group in the wake of fresh allegations, the rise in cases of communal tension, border transgressions by China, and the severe damage caused by floods in some States and drought in others.
The government has not disclosed the agenda of the session, though sources said it could be related to the G-20 Summit and the events held to celebrate 75 years of Independence.
A part of the session might be held in the new Parliament Building that was inaugurated in May amid much fanfare.
There is also the thinking that the government may bring in special Bills on long-pending issues such as women’s reservation in Parliament and the Assemblies.
Chandrayaan-3 and India’s goals for Amrit Kaal may be part of the wider discussions during the session, sources said.
A senior Congress leader said the government might do away with the Winter Session and explore early Lok Sabha elections along with the Assembly elections in five States.
“The country is staring at a drought-like situation and food inflation has crossed 11%. The government would like to avoid going to elections when food inflation increases further,” he said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the move was a reflection of Centre’s panic. “Whenever you touch the Adani matter, the PM gets very uncomfortable and very nervous,” he said in Mumbai.