NEW DELHI: With Gujarat Assembly polls weighing on the NDA Government, the Winter Session of the Parliament is likely to be a short one this year, even as BJP leaders claim that technically, the Centre has window till February to meet the norms of House sittings.
The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) headed by Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh hasn’t yet met. “We are expecting the CCPA meeting shortly. A short Winter Session is on cards around December 12, when campaigning for Gujarat polls concludes. Since the Budget Session is coming up close on the heels, there is no pressing need for a long Winter Session,” said a senior BJP functionary.
President Ram Nath Kovind is slated to make his maiden inaugural address to the Budget Session of Parliament on January 31, while Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would present the last full Budget of the current tenure of Narendra Modi Government on February 1.
It has been learnt that the Government has not yet held discussions with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on calling the Winter Session. The erstwhile UPA-II had called a 20-sitting long Winter Session from November 22 to December 20, which coincided with the last Gujarat Assembly elections.
Sources said BJP chief Amit Shah doesn’t want distractions in preparations for Gujarat polls, slated in two phases on December 9 and 14. “While Shah himself isn’t coming out of Gujarat, he expects all party energy to be focussed in the state. But there is no prospect as such that there will not be a Winter Session of Parliament,” a minister in the NDA Government said.
Incidentally, the Government doesn’t have any pressing legislative agenda to hurry into a Parliament session, sources in the BJP said. “Most of the BJP MPs will be camping in Gujarat along with Union ministers. Amit Shah wants to leave no stones unturned to ensure that doors remain shut for the Congress in Gujarat. Therefore, there is not much discussion within the Government about business for the Parliament session,” the BJP functionary said.
The BJP expects that a Parliament session in the midst of Gujarat elections will offer the Opposition a platform to raise issues that may put the Government on a defensive. “The Opposition will utilise Parliament session to play out to the gallery in the midst of the high stake Gujarat polls. Why should the Government offer such an opportunity to the Opposition on a platter?” asked a Cabinet minister, who added that if the BJP comes out victorious in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Government would be able to carry out maximum business even if a short session of Parliament is called.
Congress’s poser to PM
The Congress on Monday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for delaying the Winter Session of Parliament saying he feared that criticism of the government’s policies can dent the BJP’s prospects in Gujarat polls.The Winter Session usually begins by the third week of November and lawmakers are alerted by November 5, but there has been no clarity over the date so far because the government wanted to avoid questions related to demonetisation, GST, Kashmir, Pakistan and the Doklam face-off, the Opposition alleged.
“We would like to ask the Prime Minister and his government, are they so scared of being hauled over the coals of truth that even the temple of democracy is not being convened,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said at an AICC briefing. “There are vital and burning issues, which loom over the national horizon and the government must answer them,” he said.If the government does not clear the air over the issue, it will resort to other means to ensure the parliamentary system is not affected, the Congress threatened.