Winter session of parliament: PM Narendra Modi asked all parties to work together for a fruitful session
A short and delayed winter session began today with Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitching for teamwork by all parties in parliament and the opposition demonstrating just how they plan to shape that script, forcing multiple adjournments of the Rajya Sabha, eventually for the day. The Congress has made it clear that it will not allow work till PM Modi explains and apologises for his allegation that his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh and other party leaders colluded with Pakistani officials at a dinner in Delhi last week in an attempt to influence the Gujarat election.
Here's your 10-point cheat sheet to this story:
- Speaking ahead of the session this morning, PM Modi asked all parties to work together to make the winter session fruitful. "I am hopeful and urge all parties to come together, discuss, debate and work for the betterment of the nation," he said, calling the session, which will spill over to the next year, a significant one in which "important bills would be discussed".
- While the Lok Sabha was adjourned after obituaries, the Congress and other opposition parties protested in the Rajya Sabha against their notice demanding the PM's explanation and apology being rejected by Vice President and Upper House chairman Venkaiah Naidu.
- The opposition wants the PM to "prove" his allegations, asserting that if found true those involved must be punished.
- "But if it is false, if he levelled such a big allegation to polarise the people in view of the Gujarat polls, then he should apologise not only to the House but also to the people of the country," Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress said.
- Left leader D Raja said if he had any such concerns, the PM should have called up Dr Singh to check. "But the way he raised the issue in an election campaign... It is highly objectionable. It is not good for democracy," Mr Raja said.
- The ruling BJP has asserted that there is no question of the Prime Minister apologising and that if anyone should, it is the Congress for holding a "secret meeting" with the Pakistanis. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has called the dinner, hosted by suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, a "misadventure."
- The winter session usually begins in the middle of November and is at least a month long. This time it will span only 20 days, with 14 sittings.
- The last winter session had 21 sittings. Several important bills are expected to be brought up -- there are 25 bills pending and 14 new ones.
- At an all-party meeting on Thursday, hours after Gujarat voted in the last phase of the assembly elections, PM Modi appealed for a smooth session without disruptions, and said he welcomed discussion on "all issues" that the opposition wants to raise.
- The opposition has other plans, cut up as it is with the ruling BJP-led government for trimming the winter session; it alleges it was done because of the elections in Gujarat, PM Modi's home state.
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