As parliament continues despite many opposition members suggesting a lockdown over coronavirus worries, the BJP's Tejasvi Surya took on the Congress on Twitter saying MPs should keep working in these times just like doctors and soldiers. The comparison is "ridiculous", shot back Congress MP Karti Chidambaram.
The sparring began with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor commenting on members having to sit close together in parliament despite having to advise social distancing precautions to others.
"Ironic that Members of Parliament, who must exhort their constituents to take necessary precautions against #COVID19, continue to congregate in Parliament, where they sit cheek-by-jowl on narrow benches. Far from "practice what you preach", MPs' msg is: "do as I say, not as I do," tweeted the Kerala parliamentarian.
The BJP's Tejasvi Surya responded: "Sir, MPs aren't special. If our doctors, healthcare workers, soldiers at borders and airport staff are functioning braving all odds, shouldn't we be doing our duties as well? Precaution is important but not panic. India under PM is setting global standards in handling #COVID19."
To this, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram fired back: "To equate MPs with emergency health workers is outright ridiculous. I salute the health workers for their commitment/dedication. But there is no justification for parliament to function and congregate. If everything other congregation is downsized why is parliament an exception?"
To equate MPs with emergency health workers is outright ridiculous. I salute the health workers for their commitment/dedication. But there is no justification for parliament to function and congregate. If every other congregation is downsized why is parliament an exception?— Karti P Chidambaram (@KartiPC) March 19, 2020
As cases of coronavirus or COVID 19 rise in the country, members have argued in parliament over whether or not to cut short the session. Parliament has been sanitized and members go through thermal screening before entering.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said representatives of the people should lead by example, referring to airline crew and armed forces working without any break to help people.
However, opposition MPs, especially the Congress, suggested the ruling BJP wanted parliament to go on so coronavirus would not be used as a reason to curtail proceedings in the Madhya Pradesh assembly, where the BJP is confident that the Congress government will fail any test of strength after the resignation of 22 MLAs.