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After Last Month's Stormy Session, Sonia Gandhi to Meet Dissenters Today at Parl Strategy Meet

File photo of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma

File photo of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma

Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, who were among the 23 leaders who signed the letter that called for major changes in leadership, will be participating in the meeting.

Amid rumblings in the Congress ranks, party interim president Sonia Gandhi will meet some of the dissident letter writers on Tuesday at a key parliament strategy meeting. This is the first meeting of the grand old party leaders after the stormy Congress Working Committee session.

Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, who were among the 23 leaders who signed the letter that called for major changes in leadership, will be participating in the meeting.

The party was seen in a turmoil last month after the explosive letter — ripples of which could be seen till Sunday when dissenters Jitin Prasada and former UP Congress Committee chief Raj Babbar were left out of the newly created Congress committees ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

However, an IANS report stated that Tuesday's meeting will focus on the party strategy during the Parliament session and the issues to be raised by the party. The Congress has been attacking the Narendra Modi government for suspending Question Hour and has decided to rake up the issue. The group met last week without Sonia to deliberate on the issues.

Congress Deputy Leader in the Upper House Anand Sharma said, "Delayed Monsoon Session of Parliament is one of special significance after the lockdown and phased unlocking, proposal to exclude Question Hour is arbitrary, shocking and undemocratic."

"It is members' privilege and the very life of a session. Parliament sessions are not meant only for government business but also scrutiny and accountability of a government," Sharma added.

The Congress has alleged that the Modi government does not want to explain the brazen transgressions by China into Indian territory. It does not want to answer about the plunder of the Indian economy and the free fall of the GDP. The Centre also does not want to answer why, for the first time in 73 years, the GDP has fallen by minus 24 per cent.

Another Congress leader and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh underlined the importance of Question Hour in Parliament.

"In the eight years I was a Minister, I looked forward to Question Hour in every session of Parliament whenever BJP allowed it to function. I welcomed the grilling and used the opportunity to share maximum information on policy and programmes, and get feedback from the members," said Jairam.

The idea of dropping Question Hour has the Opposition up in arms. They are accusing the government of stifling their voice.

Both the Houses of Parliament will be meeting for the first time since the nationwide lockdown in March. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, "The government has spoken in advance to all the Opposition parties for not holding Question Hour and everyone except West Bengal MP Derek O'Brien has agreed to the arrangement."