Sonia Gandhi. Pic/AFP

7 TMC MPs, 1 BJP MP won't attend Parliament, Sonia may skip it too

By IANS | New Delhi

Published: 12 September, 2020 17:53 IST

Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to fly out abroad for availing medical treatments.

Despite several rounds of review meetings and even more detailed Covid-19 protocols to be in place in Parliament as it resumes this Monday, there will be a number of MPs who will skip it, regardless. While many of them are worried about their age and the government's suggestion of staying indoors for those with co-morbidities , others are battling Covid, or have simply come out of it or other diseases that make them vulnerable.

BJP's Belagavi MP and Union junior minister for Railways Suresh Angadi will definitely give the monsoon session a miss as he has tested Covid-positive. Though he says he continues to remain "fine" and "asymptomatic", attending the House is out of question for the Minister.

Lok Sabha MPs to mark attendance through mobile app during monsoon session amid COVID-19

Meanwhile, Union AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik, was on Saturday discharged from a Panaji hospital after being admitted for the same deadly virus, for a month. In fact, his situation turned serious following which a central team from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences was monitoring his health. However, it's very unlikely the 67-year-old minister will attend the parliament session.

Meanwhile, at least seven Trinamool Congress MPs including its Chief Whip in the Rajya Sabha Shukhendu Sekhar Roy have decided to give the monsoon session a miss. "I wrote to the House Chairman informing that I will not be attending this session primarily due to two reasons: my age and the order of the Home Secretary during unlock, asking people above 65 years of age to stay indoors, which I have enclosed. As lawmakers, we cannot be lawbreakers," Roy told IANS.

According to Roy, at least 3 TMC MPs in the Lok Sabha and 4 in the Rajya Sabha, including him, have decided not to attend this monsoon session. Roy claims, In the Lok Sabha, TMC's Kolkata North MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Kanthi MP Shishir Adhikari and Mathurapur MP Chowdhury Mohan Jatua will also skip the session. While Bandyopadhyay is 67 years old, Adhikari and Jatua are 78 years and 82 years old respectively, putting all of them under vulnerable categories.

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Speaking to IANS, Adhikari confirmed,"Yes, that is correct. I am not attending Parliament this time. My age doesn't permit me to, at the time of a pandemic."

Similarly in the upper house, Roy claims he, who is also the Trinamool Congress's Chief Whip along with other 3 TMC members have decided not to attend. The other three are Subrata Bakshi, Manas Bhuiyan and Subhasish Chakraborty. However, Roy adds that there is no party diktat but it was a "joint decision" by the concerned members.

While there is no confirmation of whether they will attend or not, there are a lot of ailing members or those recuperating who definitely fall under the category of being vulnerable.

Sources have told IANS that Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to fly out abroad for availing medical treatments. Also a BJP Rajya Sabha member who is still recuperating from his cancer treatment, was advised to stay indoors by his doctors, way before India came to learn the term 'quarantine'.

 

However, sources say two Congress seniors -- 87-year-old former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as 79-year-old AK Antony -- are very likely to attend the monsoon session, despite their age.

Shukhendu Shekhar Roy said a lot of this absenteeism could have been avoided had the government shifted the Parliament session to a larger space such as the Talkatora Stadium. "The government talks of 'do gaj ki doori' (keeping a distance of two yards). If the session was arranged at Talkatora Stadium, there would be 'das gaj ki doori' (a distance of 10 yards). But here, we are, having the monsoon session in the Parliament building," Roy told IANS. He also warned about the risk it puts the attending members in, given the vast numbers of drivers, secretariat staff, security officers who will also be in the same space.

Interestingly, on the very first day this session, the upper House will see a strong fight for the post of the Deputy chairperson. RJD leader Manoj Jha is backed by opposition parties as NDA propped up JDU's Harivansh Narayan Singh. With the BJP already issuing a three-line whip to all its Rajya Sabha members to be present on Monday, it remains to be seen how the first Parliament session after the pandemic works.

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