Parliament winter session: PM Modi says open to discussion on all issues; Opposition demands Farooq Abdullah’s presence

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flanked by Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Prahlad Joshi and MoS Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal (R) arrives for an All-Party meeting, at Parliament House in New Delhi. (PTI)

A day before the Parliament winter session is set to begin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday assured that the government will discuss all issues as the Opposition demanded that detained Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah be allowed to attend the House. The demand was raised during an all-party meeting attended by the prime minister on Sunday.

"Government is ready to discuss all issues within the framework of rules and procedures of the Houses," Modi was quoted as saying by PTI.

Opposition calls for allowing Abdullah, Chidambaram to attend session

At the government-convened meeting, the Opposition demanded that the issues of economic slowdown, job loss and farm distress must be discussed during the session, Congress' leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.

Farooq Abdullah's detention was also raised at the all-party meet, National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi said, adding that the government is under constitutional obligation to ensure his participation in the Parliament session. "How can a parliamentarian be detained illegally? He should be allowed to attend Parliament," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

Farooq Abdullah's detention was raised at the all-party meeting in New Delhi. (File)

Abdullah has been detained under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) in Kashmir, a decision taken after the Centre modified the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to scrap the special status provided to Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the Congress also demanded that former finance minister P Chidambaram be allowed to attend the session. He is lodged in Tihar Jail in connection with the INX Media case. "Past precedents are such that MPs have been allowed to attend Parliament sessions even if their cases were being heard. So, P Chidambaram should also be allowed to attend the winter session," Azad told reporters after the meeting.

Besides Modi, the all-party meeting was also attended by BJP chief Amit Shah and several senior opposition leaders. The meeting was also attended by Union minister Thawarchand Gehlot, Chowdhury, Azad and deputy leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma. TMC leader Derek O Brien, LJP leader Chirag Paswan and Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav, Telugu Desam Party Jayadev Galla and V Vijaysai Reddy were among those present at the meeting.

The CBI had arrested Chidambaram on August 21, and he has been in judicial custody since September 5.

The discussion follows a meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla over smooth functioning of the house.

Govt looks to push Citizenship bill

The Citizenship bill, Ayodhya Act and some other key ordinances will be on the Centre’s agenda as the winter session of the Parliament begins on Monday. The session is expected to be stormy as the Opposition would look to corner the government on economic slowdown and unemployment, along with the situation in Kashmir and Delhi pollution.

The other key issues on the Centre’s list would be to convert its ordinance on reducing the corporate tax rate into law, in an effort to arrest the slowdown in the economy and boost growth. The ordinance, issued in September, seeks amendments in the Income Tax Act, 1961 and Finance Act, 2019.

The government also plans to act on another ordinance passed in September, banning sale, manufacture and storage of e-cigarettes and similar products.

During the winter session, a special joint sitting of the both the Houses has been planned to mark Constitution Day on November 26. President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the Houses on the day.

The session will conclude on December 13.