Ghulam Nabi Azad: ‘Govt decisions during lockdown must be discussed in Parliament’

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Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Published: June 12, 2020 1:22:24 am

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Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks to Manoj C G about the importance of reconvening Parliament and issues that need discussion. Excerpts:

The monsoon session may be a mix of virtual and physical participation. What is your view on that?

I would like to thank the Rajya Sabha chairman for taking the initiative in consultation with the Lok Sabha Speaker to explore options on reconvening Parliament. Parliament should meet. It has been over three months since it last met for the budget session. And in these three months, the government has taken a lot of executive decisions. These decisions should be discussed and scrutinised by Parliament. Under Article 75 (3) of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People. The foundational philosophy of parliamentary democracy as enshrined in the Constitution is that the executive is accountable to Parliament…

You mentioned scrutiny by Parliament. But the standing committees were not able to meet. For instance, the plea of the chairman of the Standing Committee on Home to allow participation of members through video conference was not accepted.

Standing committees are not even allowed to function by employing digital technology on the ground that these technologies are not secure enough to guarantee confidentiality of proceedings. When the Union Cabinet is using such technology and when the PM is using such technology to interact with chief ministers and no confidentiality is breached, why is the supreme institution of Parliament and its committees embodying the people’s will denied such opportunities?…

What are the decisions the government has taken that you think need to be discussed in Parliament?

Numerous decisions taken by the government during the lockdown should be discussed in Parliament… Decisions of the government are based on deliberative and consultative processes. The Parliament of India, being a deliberative and consultative body, should examine these decisions and provide inputs…

What issues do you plan to raise during the session? Your views on the government’s handling of the pandemic?

The government has failed in handling the pandemic. The entire country was shut down and immobilised on four hours’ notice. That was a wrong decision. Transportation should have been made available to migrant workers and in a week’s time every worker would have reached their respective places. There would not have been suffering all around, and the spread of the virus would have been far less..

What is your view on the India-China border stand-off?

As far as the India-China stand-off is concerned, it is most important. It is a question of our territorial integrity and this issue needs to be discussed in Parliament.

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