Oppn ups pressure over winter session delay

Oppn ups pressure over winter session delay

The Opposition parties on Tuesday stepped up pressure on government over the delay in convening the winter session of Parliament, accusing the BJP of running away from accountability to people.

A day after Congress President Sonia Gandhi hit out at the Modi government for sabotaging democracy, senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma and young leader Deepender Hooda addressed a joint press conference to highlight that Parliament had met for 38 days in 2017 against the decadal average of 72.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Opposition parties must consider discussing issues such as agrarian crises, GST mess, corruption allegations and questions on Rafale deal in 'People's Parliament'.

Counter-attack

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back at the Congress, claiming the Opposition chose to walk out of Parliament whenever presented with "uncomfortable" facts on demonetisation.

"We are surprised at the Congress' sudden respect for dignity of Parliament. We would like to know how much time Rahul Gandhi spends in Parliament," Prasad told reporters at a press conference at the BJP headquarters.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the Congress had no issues left and hence was raising this bogey against the government. Kumar asserted that the winter session of Parliament will be held in December and that it would be a "normal session".

Prior precedents

The minister said there had been prior precedents of postponing the session in view of elections.

A scrutiny of Parliament records revealed that the winter session had been delayed on at least three occasions in the recent past on account of Assembly elections. In 2003, under prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the session began a day after the votes were cast for the Rajasthan Assembly elections on December 1.

Similarly, in 2008 and 2013 during the UPA regime, the session was delayed on account of elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajashtan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi. In 2008, the session began on December 10, almost a week after Rajasthan had voted.

In 2013, the session began on December 5, a day after Rajasthan voted in the Assembly elections. It continued till December 18 - 11 sittings. The winter session was not adjourned sine die and Parliament reconvened for the "extended" session on February 5, 2014 for presentation of the Vote on Account. It had 10 sittings and both the houses of Parliament were adjourned sine die on February 21.

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