- Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi confirmed this in a letter
- He responded to Congressman Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary
- Mr Chaudhary demanded a meeting to discuss farm laws amid protests
This time there will be no winter session of parliament due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the government has officially said, ending speculation. Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said in a letter to Congress leader Lok Sabha that all political parties are in favor of canceling the session to avoid any Covid spread and jump straight to the budget session in January. But Congress says it has never been consulted.
Mr Joshi responded yesterday to the letter from Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary demanding a meeting to discuss controversial new farming laws that are at the core of mass peasant protests on highways near Delhi. Mr Chaudhary, the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, stressed the need to amend the laws he said the government had broken through parliament.
The minister replied that he had discussed with leaders of all parties and the consensus was not to convene a session due to COVID-19 although the monsoon session held in September after a long delay due to antivirus logistics was “one of the most productive sessions with 27 bills passed in 10 continuous sessions “. Among those bills were the three farm laws that sparked the current peasant protests.
“The winter months are very crucial to manage the pandemic due to recent outbreak of cases during this period, especially in Delhi,” Mr Joshi wrote to the parliamentary congress.
“Currently we are in mid-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 thought to eliminate Winter Session. The government wants to do the next session of the parliament at the earliest.It would be appropriate to have the Budget Session, 2021 in January, given the unprecedented circumstances created by Covid-19 pandemic (sic), ”the letter said, urging Mr Chaudhary, as a“ sincere MP ”, to cooperate.
Mr Chaudhary said the letter was a gift that the government had been caught in a mess due to the peasant protests. “We wanted to raise the problems of the peasants in the parliament and wanted a solution. The way the peasants are protesting in the cold is not appropriate for the image of the country,” the congressman told NDTV.
Another senior congressional leader, Jairam Ramesh, tweeted that the government was “moving away from the truth” and the opposition leader in Rajya Sabha, congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad, had not been consulted.
– Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) December 15, 2020
The constitution says parliament must meet within six months. The Budget session probably in the last week of January before the budget announcement on 1 February.
Several congressional leaders called for a meeting at the earliest, with precautions, saying it is critical to discuss various concerns before the country, including the peasant protests, the economy and the Chinese ranks.
In September, the monsoon session was shortened after many lawmakers hired Covid.
Seventeen members of the Lok Sabha and eight of the Rajya Sabha tested positive in tests conducted before the session began.
Many MPs who initially tested negative were infected during the session. According to ministers, the infection has spread despite resources such as social distancing, separate shifts and regular RT-PCR tests.
About 200 of the 785 MPs are over 65 and more vulnerable to the coronavirus.