NEW DELHI: Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh were engaged in a public spat on social media on Wednesday over the government's decision not to hold the winter session of Parliament, with the opposition leader accusing the Centre of playing "silly games" and the urban development minister saying "colourful" statements are coming out of frustration due to electoral reverses.
The exchange of words on Twitter came after Ramesh objected to the government's claim that opposition leaders were consulted before it was decided that the winter session of Parliament will not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"At 10:49 am on 15.12. 2020, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad told me: He [Joshi] has not talked to me. 4 minutes later Ghulam Nabi Azad told me: They [Modi Sarkar] have not consulted us. So stop playing these silly games Mr. Joshi," Ramesh said in a tweet.
Slamming the government for its decision not to hold Parliament's winter session in view of COVID-19, the Congress on Tuesday said the "decimation of parliamentary democracy is complete" and asked if poll campaigning can be done amid the pandemic, why cannot the session be held.
Ramesh also attacked Puri for his claim that both houses had passed a resolution in October 2019 for a new Parliament building.
"This is Puri's poora jhoot. There was no Resolution in the Rajya Sabha certainly. The Chairman made observations on it on 5th August 2019. The virus of lying has completely infected the Modi cabinet," the Congress's chief whip in the Upper House of Parliament said in another tweet.
"This is NOT a House Resolution as you claim. There is no House Resolution. Keep lying," he said while replying to one of Puri's tweets.
The minister hit back at Ramesh, saying, "Before you put your foot fully into your own mouth, I would advise you to read what the Hon'ble Speaker said.
The demand and necessity for a modern, well-equipped and grand Parliament house has been around since a very long time."
"You deny empirical evidence on the need for a new Parliament and in the process do great disservice to yourself and your party. I don't want to comment on the tone of your tweet or the other colourful statements you have recently been making."
"A charitable explanation is that these are manifestations of your frustration arising out of electoral reverses. Fortunately, the virus of disinformation cannot alter facts," he said.
Puri has slammed the Opposition for its criticism of the government on the new Parliament building and asked where these parties were when the resolution was passed by both houses to the effect in October 2019.
The Congress has opposed the new Parliament building and none of its leaders attended the foundation stone-laying function.
Congress spokesperson Surpriya Shrinate wondered if rallies can be organised and addressed by BJP leaders on farm laws, why cannot the Parliament session be held.
She asked whether the people attending the big rallies organised by the ruling party are not affected by the coronavirus.
Shrinate also accused the government of speaking half-truths about not holding the winter session of Parliament and said no opposition leader was consulted on the issue.
"I will only urge the ministers of this government to stop resorting to blatant lies. It does not suit their profiles, it does not suit the positions they occupy. I find it extremely distressing that people in important positions of power and ministers in this government resort to half-truths," she said.