Kolkata: As India continues to witness a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have decided not to attend the parliament from Monday onwards.
For the last few days, the TMC had been accused the Centre of running the Parliament and putting the lives of all MPs and staff at risk even as three BJP MPs who went into isolation as a precautionary measure.
Speaking to the News18, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen, who is also the president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Most of us have decided not to attend the Parliament as a precautionary measure due to the COVID-19 spread.”
He said, “While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested for ‘Janta Curfew’, he is asking us to attend the Parliament and putting everybody’s life at risk. He is trying to run the Parliament forcibly, which is a matter of concern. If the government tries to put the Parliament in trouble then it is unfortunate and we have nothing to say except staying away from remaining sessions for the larger health benefits.”
The TMC has 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 13 in the Rajya Sabha. It has been urging the government to defer Parliament for the past 10 days but no action has been taken so far. "The prime minister himself has spoken about the urgent need for social distancing and the need to not assemble in large groups and that those above the age of 65 should take abundant care.
"Around 44 per cent MPs in Rajya Sabha and 22 per cent MPs in Lok Sabha are 65 years of age and above. It is not only about MPs, but the thousands who enter the Parliament complex every day. This conflicting messaging is downright dangerous," it said in a letter.
TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy confirmed the move, saying, “In all likelihood, none of our MPs will be join the Parliament till the last session on April 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Roy said he has written a letter to the chairman and informed him about going to his home in Bengal. “Presently, I am in Bengal and not attending the Parliament session. Due to this grave situation, I thought it is prudent not to visit the Parliament because it is vulnerable for people like me who are above 70 years old. I have kept myself in isolation as per the advisory issued by the WHO and our health ministry,” he said.
“Every day, nearly 6,000 to 7,000 thousand people, including security staff, MPs, canteen boys, journalists, drivers, etc. visits the Parliament and I feel it is not the right time to keep it running. Some of the MPs attended that party (which was also attended by singer Kanika Kapoor who later tested positive for Covid-19) and our MP Derek O’Brien was sitting next to Dushyant Singh (another attendee) during the standing committee meeting. Although their reports have come negative, the whole scenario is very scary. Therefore, considering the ground reality, we all have decided not to attend the session till the situation improves,” Roy added.
The Covid-19 epidemic in India has claimed six lives till now and the number of infections have soared to 324. As a precautionary measure, the Indian Railways have suspended all trains till March 25.
TMC Rajya Sabha MP and leader of the party in the Upper House Derek O'Brien and Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Lok Sabha MP and leader of the party in the Lower House, have written to presiding officers of both Houses, urging them to wind up proceedings on Monday (March 23).
The entire nation is following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for a 'Janata curfew' on Sunday. People are keeping themselves indoor to contain the spread. All markets and establishments except those dealing in essential goods and services will be closed for the day.
On March 20, Derek O'Brien had accused Modi of putting the lives of others at risk as Parliament running despite the grave situation across the world due to the Corona virus. He demanded to defer the Budget Session.