NEW DELHI: The winter session of Parliament will not be held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Budget session will be convened in January 2021, the government has conveyed to the opposition, a move slammed by the Congress as the "decimation of parliamentary democracy".
In a letter to leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, "Winter months are very crucial for managing the pandemic because of recent spurt in cases during this period, particularly in Delhi. At present, we are in the middle of December and a covid vaccine is expected very soon."
The minister said he had informally contacted floor leaders of various political parties and "they have expressed their concerns about the ongoing pandemic and opined of doing away with winter session".
"Government is willing to have the next session of Parliament at the earliest; it would be appropriate to have the Budget Session, 2021 in January, 2021 keeping in mind the unprecedented circumstances created by Covid-19 pandemic," Joshi wrote.
Talking about the monsoon session which was delayed due to the pandemic, he appreciated cooperation from all political parties for a productive session held under extraordinary circumstances by making special logistical arrangements.
Senior Congress leader and the Party's chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said the Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House, Ghulam Nabi Azad, was not consulted on the cancelling the winter session.
Hitting out at the government, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the "Decimation of Parliamentary Democracy is complete" with this decision.
"Competitive exams can be held during COVID. Schools can be opened, universities can hold exams. Rallies can be held in Bihar-Bengal. But Winter Session of Parliament can't be held," Surjewala said.
"Any semblance of democracy left?" he asked.
The winter session of Parliament normally starts in the last week of November or in the first week of December.
The Constitution broadly stipulates one major rule that there should not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions of Parliament.
However, it has been a convention to hold three sessions of Parliament -- budget, monsoon and winter -- in a year.