India bloc meeting: Sonia Gandhi to write to PM Modi on Parliament special session agenda
Congress leaders said the plan for Sonia Gandhi to write to Modi was endorsed by all 24 INDIA constituents with a presence in Parliament
Congress parliamentary party chief Sonia Gandhi will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to spell out the government’s agenda in the upcoming special session of Parliament, and informing him about the Opposition’s demand to discuss a raft of issues, leaders aware of the matter said after a meeting of the INDIA group on Tuesday evening.
Gandhi’s letter will be written in the next few days, people aware of the matter said. Congress leaders said the plan for Gandhi to write to Modi was endorsed by all 24 INDIA constituents with a presence in Parliament.
This came after the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) decided in two meetings – one of the 28-member group and another of the Congress – that it wants to discuss fresh allegations against the Adani Group, price rise, unemployment, the Manipur situation and Centre-state relations in the five-day session beginning September 18, said the leaders cited above.
At the floor leaders meeting held at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence on Tuesday, the leaders also discussed some attempts by ministers and government officials to use Bharat instead of India – a controversy broke out earlier in the day over a G20 dinner invitation that described Droupadi Murmu as President of Bharat, instead of President of India – and the women reservation bill.
“The sense of the meeting was that all INDIA parties will oppose any move to drop India from the Constitution. Some smaller parties indicated that the INDIA bloc should boycott the special session. But the larger parties rejected those suggestions and decided to come to the special session with a positive agenda,” said a leader present in the meeting.
After the meeting, Congress’s deputy leader of the Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi, attacked the government.
“All leaders were of the opinion that why was this session called. No clarification has come from the government. The country doesn’t know what is the specialty of this special session. The BJP must tell the nation what the special agenda is,” he said.
In the meeting, Kharge announced a number of issues to build a larger consensus. “The issues included the latest revelations on the Adani Group, price rise, unemployment, the Manipur situation, the Comptroller and Auditor General reports, demand for a higher minimum support price and misuse of federal agencies. We all accepted these issues,” said a leader present in the meeting.
Differences cropped up over the women reservation bill, which some speculate could come up in the special session. “The Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left and a few other parties announced they will wholeheartedly support the bill if it comes. The Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United), however, stuck to their demand for a quota within quota,” said a second leader present in the meeting.
A non-Congress leader said there was no discussion on sub-quota for other backward classes (OBCs) – an issue that the Rohini commission is looking into – even as a number of parties reiterated their demand for a caste census. “Modi government is convening a special session of Parliament for the first time without spelling out the agenda. No one from any opposition party has been consulted or informed. This is not the way to run a democracy,” Kharge said.
“Every day, the Modi government plants a story in the media of a prospective agenda, thereby creating a smokescreen of diversion from real issues…INDIA parties discussed the way forward for the special session. We shall not be deterred in raising people’s issues…Let the BJP know — Bharat Judega, INDIA Jeetega !” he posted on X. Hours before the INDIA meeting, the Congress announced it will press for a debate on five to seven raging issues and is in no mood to listen to “Modi chalisa”— praise for the Prime Minister—for five days.
The Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting was chaired by Sonia. “We should find an opportunity to discuss public issues, economic issues, political issues and social issues that can be discussed under any rule. But it is impossible to have only government business and listen to Modi chalisa for 5 days,” said party general secretary Jairam Ramesh.
Leaders such as P Chidambaram and Abhishek Singhvi briefed the leaders on the legal aspects of simultaneous state and national polls, and the possibility of dropping the world India from the Constitution.
The Congress also questioned the government’s approach to call a special session from September 18 to 22. “Whenever a special session is called, the subject is known to all the parties in advance, talks are held with the parties, talks are held with individual leaders... a broad agenda is decided and the special session is held,” said Ramesh, “This is the first time that we are seeing that suddenly when a meeting of INDIA parties was held in Mumbai, to divert attention from that meeting, the Prime Minister and senior aides announced a five-day special session.” Gogoi said economic problems, unemployment, inflation, the natural disaster in Himachal Pradesh, and the Northeast were discussed in the meeting.
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