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Congress, SAD to skip govt’s all-party meeting on Covid management

During the meeting, the health secretary is expected to make a presentation,which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

The main opposition party Congress and BJP’s former ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have said they will not attend the government’s meeting with floor leaders of all parties on Covid management later on Tuesday.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the Congress is not boycotting the meeting, but it will not attend as it wants the government to present the facts on the floor of both houses of Parliament.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has confirmed that the party will not attend the meeting, news agency PTI reported.

During the meeting, the health secretary is expected to make a presentation, which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

Earlier on Tuesday, Kharge said in the Rajya Sabha that the government, just like demonetisation, did not prepare for the Covid lockdown, and it should be held accountable. Kharge also said that during state elections, it was the central leadership that broke its own rules by flouting all Covid norms.

Taking a strong exception to the Opposition’s attack in Parliament over the government’s Covid-19 response, PM Modi Tuesday is learnt to have asked his party colleagues to counter their charges citing the availability of the vaccine. He said there has been a deliberate attempt to mislead people that there’s a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in the country. He said the Congress is in a “coma” and it has not been able to digest the BJP coming to power, sources said.

Addressing the BJP MPs at its parliamentary party meeting, the PM reportedly said the party leaders should be prepared to face the anticipated third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the eve of the monsoon session, while the government said PM Modi would brief floor leaders on Tuesday on the Covid situation and its vaccination programme, the Opposition rejected the offer, saying he should address the issue on the floor of the House.

Opposition parties objected to the government’s offer for a joint address to all MPs by the Prime Minister on Covid at the Parliament annexe, saying this will be “highly irregular” at a time when Parliament will be in session and it aims to “bypass” norms.

Leaders, including from the Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M), also said that when the Covid and issues related to it can be discussed on the floor of the House, what was the need to go “outside”.

The annexe is a separate building within the premises of the Parliament complex.

The government’s offer, which came amid severe criticism over its handling of the second wave of the pandemic, was announced by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi at an all-party meeting convened by the Centre on Sunday.

(With PTI inputs)

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