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Thousands of workers protested against Narendra Modi government's economic policies barely a kilometre away from the Parliament on Thursday, while a conglomeration of farmer organisations announced its plan to gather at the same location to highlight farm distress on November 20.
These protests had been decided months in advance to coincide with the Winter Session of the Parliament. But there still little clarity on the dates and duration of the Winter Session, which usually begins in the second or third week of November.
Opposition parties have expressed their fears over possibilities of the Modi government scrapping the session altogether or convene a brief session after polling was over in Gujarat.
Government sources have maintained that most MPs would be busy with campaigning in Gujarat, which will lead to poor attendance during the session. Opposition leaders have pointed out that campaigning for elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, was held in the midst of the Budget session earlier this year.
Himachal Pradesh went to polls on Thursday, while Gujarat is scheduled to vote on December 9 and 14. According to sources in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs meets a fortnight before the convening of a session to decide and announce the dates, and the Members of Parliament are intimated thereafter. This is yet to be done.
Opposition leaders have said the government does not want to face the Parliament session, which is likely to be stormy with questions being raised on the Centre's demonetisation drive, besides calling into question the goods and services tax (GST) and the business dealings of BJP Chief Amit Shah's son.
Meanwhile, the full council of ministers is scheduled to meet on Friday. Prime Minister Modi will chair the meeting. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh is also scheduled to reach out to some of the farmer organisations on November 15, but not to the 180-odd organisations who have come together to protest on November 20.
On Thursday, 10 central trade unions protested against the government's disinvestment policy. The three-day protest concludes on Saturday. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated trade union, did not participate in the protest. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has planned a protest to highlight the problems of the farm sector on November 17.
In Nagpur, the Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nana Patole said senior party leader Yashwant Sinha and Lok Sabha MP Shatrughan Sinha will address a convention of farmers in Akola in eastern Maharashtra on December 1. Recently, Patole was in the news for saying that the PM didn't like to take questions. Sinha is also slated to address meetings in Gujarat in mid-November.
Patole also claimed that he was approached by the Congress and Shiv Sena- both of whom asked him to join their party. Both offers were, however, declined by Patole, who said he did not want to leave the BJP. The BJP MP, however, said he would try meet Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi to discuss farmer-related issues during the Winter Session of the Parliament.