Opposition likely to boycott joint sitting

November 25, 2019 10:16 pm | Updated 10:16 pm IST - New Delhi

The Opposition parties led by the Congress are likely to boycott the joint sitting of Parliament on Tuesday called by the government to commemorate the Constitution Day, as a mark of protest against the “clandestine” swearing-in of the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and NCP’s Ajit Pawar as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister on Saturday in a closely guarded ceremony.

Shiv Sena MPs led by former Union Minister Arvind Sawant had a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the latter’s residence. Ostensibly the meeting was to discuss parliamentary strategy for Tuesday. However, sources said the meeting went on for nearly three hours and the two sides spoke at length about the Maharashtra arithmetic. It is for the first time in many years that Ms. Gandhi had a one-on-one meeting with Shiv Sena leaders and could pave the way for a lasting alliance between the two.

“Tomorrow is Constitution Day and all the Opposition parties will boycott the programme organised by the ruling party. Instead, we will pay homage to the father of the Indian Constitution BR Ambedkar by congregating at his statue in Parliament,” Mr. Sawant told The Hindu .

Lok Sabha leader for Congress Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary, called up Mr. Sawant and conveyed the Congress’ plan to boycott the joint Parliamentary proceedings. He invited Mr. Sawant to attend a meeting with Ms. Gandhi to discuss the plan in detail.

“Everyday the BJP is assaulting, abusing and insulting the Constitution. Look at what is happening in Maharashtra. The sanctity of the Constitution is not being maintained by the BJP. So this joint session is just a mockery,” he added.

Other than NCP and Shiv Sena, by Monday evening the Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazgham confirmed that they will boycott the session. The Congress has also reached out to Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party but so far has not got any confirmation from them.

Congress’ ally RJD is also not completely on board so far. RJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Manoj K Jha told The Hindu that his party will be present at 10.00 a.m. when the Opposition plans to assemble at Ambedkar’s statue in Parliament and will decide accordingly on skipping the session.

The government is celebrating ‘Constitution Day’ or ‘Samvidhan Diwas’ on Tuesday in the Central Hall of Parliament to mark the 70th anniversary of adoption of the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the MPs on the occasion. The President will also inaugurate a digital exhibition through video conferencing.

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