Convene Parliament's Winter Session, Congress asks Centre
New Delhi: The Congress on Monday demanded immediate convening of the Winter Session of Parliament, saying that state polls must not become an excuse for the government to defer it and that any delay will tantamount to an 'assault on our democratic traditions'.
The opposition party also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to what his government was scared of that it was 'running away' from convening the Winter Session, adding that there were many vital issues of public importance that needed to be urgently discussed in the highest forum of democracy.
Congress Spokesperson Manish Tewari said the important issues that need to be discussed include demonetisation and its impact, 'failure' vis-a-vis implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, situation in Jammu and Kashmir, 'failed policy' towards Pakistan and the Doklam stand-off with China.
"Are they scared of being hauled over hot coals of truth," he asked.
He said there was a time-honoured tradition that the Winter Session was usually convened in the third week of November.
"It is indeed unfortunate. We would like to demand that the Winter Session be convened immediately. Let not an assembly election in one state (Gujarat) or the other become an excuse for the government to run away from facing Parliament," Tewari said at a media briefing.
He said summons were issued to Parliament members about 15 days in advance, asking them to be present for the session. "Today, it is November 13 and there is no sign of the Winter Session, which has been our tradition."
Tewari said there was a certain time table for Parliament and it was so structured that the Budget, Monsoon and Winter Sessions occur in a time-bound manner.
"Why is it that the government is not convening the Winter Session," he asked.
Tewari questioned the Prime Minister whether the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, which takes a call on the timing of a session, has held its meeting. "If it has not met, why?"
He alleged that the larger issue was the government's 'complete lack of respect for institutions'.
"Be it the Reserve Bank of India, the manner in which investigative and law enforcement agencies have been unleashed on opposition leaders, the government's recalcitrance to finalise the Memorandum of Procedure, which is holding judicial appointments to ransom," the Congress leader said.
Asked how the Congress will take up issues concerning the people, Tewari said: "If the government still does not listen, then all democratic options are open to us."
"Whatever needs to be done to ensure that the functioning of Parliament is not subverted would be done. We will not allow erosion of institutions, which has become the sine qua non of this government."