The timing and duration of the winter session of Parliament
have sparked off a fresh war of words between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
and Congress President Sonia Gandhi
firing shots at each other's political outfits on Monday.
Gandhi on Monday launched an all-out attack on the government, accusing it of sabotaging the winter session of Parliament
on flimsy grounds.
Addressing the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), she also accused the government of being "ill-prepared" to implement the goods and services tax (GST), which she described as a "flawed" tax regime. The Congress president also hit out at the government over demonetisation, saying that the move left millions of people "suffering".
"The Modi-government in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India' Parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the winter session of Parliament
on flimsy grounds," she told the party's highest decision-making body. Her assault on the government came on a day when the party set down the path for her son Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi's ascension to the post of party president by mid-December.
According to sources, the government is considering a truncated winter session of around 10 days starting from the second week of December.
Hours after the Congress president's attack, Jaitley said Parliament sessions were often rescheduled to ensure they did not overlap with elections and claimed the Congress had done so too in the past.
On Gandhi's allegation that the government was "sabotaging" the winter session of Parliament, Jaitley said the Opposition party had also delayed a session in 2011 and even earlier because the sittings coincided with election campaigns.
"It has been a tradition and it has happened several times that Parliament sessions are rescheduled when an election is happening," he told reporters in Rajkot.
He said the session would be held and the Congress would be "totally exposed". He also said the Congress had itself rescheduled Parliament sessions several times. "The Congress has given the most corrupt government in its ten years of rule, while Narendra Modi
has given the most honest government. By forcibly saying that a truth is a lie does not make it a lie," Jaitley hit back.
"(The) timing is decided such that they do not overlap with election campaigns. (Congress) did so in 2011, and even before that," the senior BJP leader said, adding, "Parliament session will be held for sure and on all subjects, and the Congress will be totally exposed."