Slamming the government for its decision to not hold Parliament's winter session in view of COVID-19, the Congress on Tuesday said the "decimation of parliamentary democracy is complete" and asked if election campaigning can be done amid the pandemic then why can't the session be held.
Senior Congress leader and the party's chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh also said that the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, was not consulted on the matter.
In a letter to leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, "Winter months are very crucial for managing the pandemic because of recent spurt in cases during this period, particularly in Delhi. At present, we are in the middle of December and a COVID vaccine is expected very soon." The minister said he had informally contacted floor leaders of various political parties and "they have expressed their concerns about the ongoing pandemic and opined of doing away with winter session".
Responding to the minister's remarks, Ramesh tweeted, "The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha was not consulted. Mr. Pralhad Joshi is as usual departing from the truth."
Hitting out at the government, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter, "Modi ji, decimation of 'parliamentary democracy' is complete. NEET/JEE exams can be held during COVID. Schools can be opened, universities can hold exams. Rallies can be held in Bihar-Bengal. But winter session of Parliament can't be held." "Any semblance of democracy left?" he asked.
On its official Twitter handle, the Congress said, "Another step in the BJP's attempt to destroy democracy." "The BJP brought crisis on democracy is not limited to parliamentary sessions, but is a crisis on every common person's life, their independence, their wishes. We will fight this crisis," the party said in a tweet in Hindi. Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, "Bihar election — not postponed. New Parliament building ceremony – not postponed. BJP Bengal rallies- not postponed. But Parliament winter session – postponed due to COVID-19. Winter session postponement is BJP's expected sinister strategy to avoid debate, questions on farmers' protest." Another Congress spokesperson Shama Mohamed also hit out at the BJP for going ahead with poll campaigning amid the pandemic, but citing COVID-19 to no told the winter session of Parliament.
"If COVID-19 hasn't stopped the BJP government from campaigning for elections or even going ahead with a new Parliament building, why should winter session of Parliament be scrapped because of it? BJP is using the pandemic as an excuse to undermine essential democratic processes!" she tweeted. Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the Inter-Parliamentary Union data shows more than 105 countries across the world held multiple Parliamentary sessions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked why the Modi government is evading the accountability by cancelling the Parliament session.