A number of political parties have sought a special two-day session of Parliament to discuss the grim pandemic situation in the country. More than 2,70,000 new cases were recorded in India in the last 24 hours.
Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tiwari said an emergency session of Parliament should be immediately called to take stock of the situation. "The nation is confronted with an unprecedented health emergency. The health infrastructure across the country is under acute stress. An emergency session of Parliament is the need of the hour."
The Shiv Sena has also made a similar appeal. Its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said he has been holding talks with leaders of other parties over the issue. "I have demanded a special session of Parliament. Leaders of other states also say the situation there is critical. If the government calls a special session, there will be an open discussion on the situation of all states," he said.
However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said no political party has approached the central government so far over the issue, while adding there is no question of calling a session at this point. “Given the fact that COVID-19 is raging, it will be a political harakiri to call MPs from across country to Delhi when the national capital is itself going into a lockdown," he told CNN-News18.
Regarding criticism over the Centre's handling of the crisis, Joshi said, "The government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are doing their best. Regular meetings are being held with all the chief ministers and health ministers to address their concerns. This is not the time to do politics on a pandemic."
Biju Janta Dal parliamentarian Bhartruhari Mahtab said this is not the time to hold a physical session, but the option of a virtual meeting can be explored. "It is the time to make people aware of the crisis. The situation is serious and the need is to ensure strict compliance of social distancing norms. We also need to examine if there can be a consensus to hold a virtual session of Parliament."
The last monsoon session of Parliament had to be curtailed after a large number of MPs and staff of both the Houses tested positive for the virus. The winter session was also clubbed with the curtailed Budget session of Parliament. The session had to be shortened after several political leaders expressed their desire to go back to their states for campaigning as elections were due. More than 145 MPs had written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla seeking a curtailed budget session so that they could focus on campaigning.