STATE TIMES NEWS New Delhi: Ahead of Parliament’s winter session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday assured an all-party meeting that the government is ready to discuss all issues, while the opposition raised concerns over economic slowdown and farm distress and strongly demanded that detained Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah be allowed to attend the House. At the government-convened meeting attended by almost all major political parties, Prime Minister Modi said the most important job of the House is to discuss and debate and this session should also be as productive as the last one, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told reporters. The Opposition demanded that the issues of economic slowdown, job loss, farm distress and pollution must be discussed during the session, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said. A number of leaders raised the issue of detention of National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and said he should be allowed to attend Lok Sabha. Sources said there was no definite response from the government on the issue. “Government is ready to discuss all issues within the framework of rules and procedures of the Houses,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by Joshi. Constructive discussion in Parliament also keeps the bureaucracy alert, the prime minister said at the meeting. “The Prime Minister, while responding to specific issues raised by the representatives of various political parties, said that the government would work together with all parties in a constructive manner to address pending legislations and frame policy solutions for specific issues related to environment and pollution, economy, agricultural sector and farmers and the rights of women, youth and the less privileged sections of society,” an official statement said. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, however, was cynical on the Prime Minister’s assurance that the government is ready to discuss all issues, saying that when it comes to taking up issues such as unemployment, economic slowdown, condition of farmers in the House, the government takes a different stand. National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi said they raised the issue of Farooq Abdullah’s detention at the meeting and stressed 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,” Azad said. He also demanded that former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram be allowed to attend Parliament, saying there have been instances in past when in similar circumstances MPs have been allowed in the House.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah was detained under the Public Safety Act in September.
Chidambaram is in judicial custody in the INX media money laundering case that the Enforcement Directorate is investigating.
Prime Minister Modi also noted that this session of Parliament will be a special occasion as it will mark the 250th session of Rajya Sabha and expressed happiness that special events and activities were being planned to mark this occasion, the statement said.
The Prime Minister emphasised that the 250th session of the Upper House provides an opportunity for highlighting the unique strengths of Parliament as well as the Constitution, in providing an overarching framework of governance institutions for a diverse country like India, it said.
The backdrop of the session being held as India celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi also made it a unique and special occasion, he said.
The Prime Minister also complemented the presiding officers of the two Houses for smooth running of the last session of Parliament and noted that this had helped to create a positive impact amongst the people about the functioning of the legislative arm.
The all-party meeting was also attended by BJP chief and Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Minister Thawarchand Gehlot and several senior opposition leaders like 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’s Jayadev Galla and V Vijaysai Reddy of YSR Congress were among those present at the meeting.
Paswan raised the issue of women’s reservation bill.
The meeting was called by the government and moderated by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Meghwal.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had on Saturday appealed to all political parties for cooperation for ensuring smooth functioning of the House.
After an all-party meeting, which was also attended by Modi, the Speaker had said floor leaders of different parties mentioned various issues that they wished to be discussed during the winter session from November 18 till December 13.
The Budget session was the most productive session in Lok Sabha since 1952 as 35 bills were passed. A total of 32 bills were cleared in Rajya Sabha.
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