Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked BJP MPs on Tuesday to spread awareness about the coronavirus and made it clear that the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament will not be curtailed as lawmakers should be seen to be doing their work at a time when the country is staring at a health scare.
In his address at the BJP parliamentary party meeting, Modi made a strong pitch for Parliament to carry out its business as per its schedule and took a swipe at those making calls, including writing letters, for the session to be aborted due to coronavirus, sources said.
What will happen if medical professionals and railway and airline employees also speak about not working due to the health scare, he wondered, asserting that parliamentarians must carry out their duties at a time when over 130 crore people of India are going about their business while taking precautions.
Though he did not name anyone, BJP MP and former Union minister Vijay Goel had written to the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairperson, urging them to consider adjourning their respective House sine die because of coronavirus as Parliament sees presence of a large number of people during sessions.
That Goel's letter found its way in the media also did not go down well with the prime minister, the sources said. The Budget Session is scheduled to continue till April 3.
There has been speculation that the session may be curtailed in view of the health advisory against big gatherings.
When over 130 crore people of the country are facing a health concern, MPs should be seen to be doing their work, including to deal with coronavirus, and Parliament should function, Modi said, according to the sources.
Briefing reporters, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said Modi heaped praise on doctors and other medical staff besides airline crews and all those involved in tackling the coronavirus crisis, saying they have worked positively and tirelessly. Joshi ruled out any curtailment of the session.
Modi also lauded the media for spreading awareness on the virus, and said no amount of praise for its work will be enough.
As the parliamentary party meeting ended, many BJP MPs were seen passing on the prime minister's appreciation to reporters in the parliament complex.
Modi asked BJP MPs to spread awareness among the people in small groups and suggested that they should refrain from launching any mass agitation till April 15.
He told them to meet medical professionals in their constituency and praise them for the work.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan briefed the MPs about the measures taken by the government to deal with coronavirus. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke about the Yes Bank crisis and how the government is dealing with the matter, keeping in mind the interests of depositors.