The Congress on Wednesday said the agenda for the upcoming session of Parliament as published at the moment is "much ado about nothing" but expressed apprehensions that the government is keeping "legislative grenades" up its sleeves to be unleashed at the last moment.
The government on Wednesday listed a special discussion on Parliament's journey of 75 years, starting from the Samvidhan Sabha, on the first day of the five-day session of Parliament beginning September 18.
During the session, the government has also listed the bill on the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners to be taken up for consideration and passage. The bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha during the last Monsoon session.
In a post on X, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "Finally, after pressure from Smt. Sonia Gandhi's letter to the Prime Minister, the Modi Govt has condescended to announce the agenda for the special 5-day session of Parliament beginning September 18th."
"The agenda as published at the moment, is much ado about nothing — all this could have waited till Winter session in November. I am sure the legislative grenades are being kept up their sleeves to be unleashed at the last moment as usual. Parde ke peeche kuch aur hai!" he said.
Regardless, the INDIA alliance parties will steadfastly oppose the "insidious" CEC Bill, Ramesh added.
Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said the session's agenda announced thus far does not speak of a single issue of public importance raised by Sonia Gandhi in her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Instead, they have chosen headline management. 140 crore Indians are sorely disappointed looking at this agenda," Venugopal said on X.
Congress' deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi also slammed the government over the agenda put out.
"It is unfortunate that despite CPP Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi highlighting the most pressing issues facing India- the government chooses to be silent. Where is Manipur? Unemployment? Natural disaster in Himachal Pradesh? Drought in Maharashtra? Inflation?" Gogoi said on X.
Tagging his earlier post in the day in which he had attacked the government for not coming out with the agenda, TMC spokesperson Derek O'Brien said, "Seven hours after this dose, PM @narendramodi govt puts out an agenda for #ParliamentSpecialSession."
"However, the agenda has a caveat* 'not to be taken as exhaustive'. Dirty tricks?" he said on X.
In his earlier post on X, O'Brien said, "Two working days to go before the special Parliament session begins and still not a word on the agenda."
The TMC spokesperson further said, "Only two people know! And we still call ourselves a parliamentary democracy," he said.
The session is likely to see the proceedings of Parliament moving from the old building to the new Parliament building.
The other listed business for Lok Sabha includes 'The Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023' and 'The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023', already passed by Rajya Sabha on August 3, 2023.
Besides, 'The Post Office Bill, 2023' has also been listed in the Lok Sabha business, according to an official bulletin. The bill was earlier introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 10, 2023.
The list of business is tentative and more items can be added.
The government has also convened a meeting of floor leaders of all political parties on September 17, a day before the start of the five-day session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said.
Earlier in the day, when the agenda had not been put out, Ramesh had said, "Today is September 13. The five-day special session of Parliament will commence five days from now and nobody -- barring One Man (ok, perhaps the Other One too) -- has any sense of the agenda."
Ramesh had also listed several previous occasions when special sessions or special sittings were held and the list of business was known in advance.