Trinamool Congress MPs on Sunday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu over the denial of the request to defer the working of Parliament as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country.
"We have attempted to flag this issue at every opportunity. The Parliament of India has thousands of people working here including MPs, officers, security personnel, media, and support staff. This congregation of people from across the country is a major health hazard," they wrote in the letter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken about the urgent need for social distancing and the need to not assemble in large groups and that those above the age of 65 should take abundant care. The All India Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party has been advising this for the last two weeks, the letter further reads.
"Sir, around 44 per cent MPs in the Rajya Sabha and 22 per cent MPs in the Lok Sabha are 65 years of age and above. It is not only about the MPs, but the thousands who enter the Parliament complex every day. This conflicting messaging is downright dangerous. The nation must unite to fight against this health emergency," said the MPs.
"Sir, with great respect, we ask you to ponder over this. Of the total 110 (approximate) hours of discussions held in both Houses, a mere 3 per cent of the time was utilised to discuss issues related to the corona pandemic. Senior ministers are giving statements on the floor of the House," they added.
TMC MPs will not attend the Parliament from 23rd March till 3rd April, as per the instructions of party leader Mamata Banerjee, who has directed them to be present in their respective constituencies to create awareness about coronavirus.
"They are saying that the government wants to keep Parliament running so that MPs give the nation confidence and lead by example. This is highly irresponsible. This is not the example we should be setting," the letter notes.
TMC MPs have also urged the presiding officers to pass the Finance Bill at the earliest.
"We understand that it is important to pass the Finance Bill before the start of the fiscal year on April 1, 2020. It is already delayed, and before any further damage, we urge you to take up the Bill on Monday, March 23. We cannot risk this health emergency any further," the MPs said in the letter.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 341.
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