PM Modi calls meeting of parliamentary floor leaders; TMC says it will not attend

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister
Narendra Modi has called for an all-party meeting of parliamentary floor leaders on April 8 to discuss the situation arising out of
coronavirus spread.

Mamata Banerjee‘s Trinamool Congress, has communicated to the government, that its leaders will not attend the meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to be held through video conference, at a time when social distancing is the primary protocol to deal with Covaid-19 and the 21-day lockdown across the country that is underway restricts travel.

TMC leaders Sudip Bandopadhyay (Lok Sabha) and Derek O’Brien (Rajya Sabha) informed parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi about the party’s decision to boycott the meeting within 15 minutes of receiving a phone call from the minister.

The party claimed that there was no point in holding the meeting now since the whole issue was ignored when it was highlighted during the Budget session in March by TMC members inside and outside the House.

“In fact TMC was the first party to ask Prime Minister Modi to close Parliament as social distancing was most important. However, the government did not pay heed to our request. We also boycotted the last two days of the House on this ground, asked the government to hold an all-party meeting while the House was running and all members were present, but it was ignored,” said a TMC source.

Hence, the party has decided to boycott the meeting, the source said.

According to another TMC source, “it is only after having meetings with actors, sports stars etc that the PM has thought it necesssary to talk to the people’s representatives.”

Modi’s first meeting with other political parties including the opposition since the outbreak of the coronavirus comes days after he held a round of talks with all the chief ministers across the country on combatting the spread of the virus.

A letter from parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said that floor leaders of the parties which has more than five members in Parliament would be invited to participate in the meeting.

Keeping in mind the norms for social distancing and travel restrictions, the much-coveted meeting will be conducted through a video conference.

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