What’s the point? Cong rues timelines for Covid debate

15 Opposition parties write to chairman asking for more debate time

What’s the point? Cong rues timelines for Covid debate

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Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16

The Government has come under attack from the opposition for severe time restrictions on the crucial debate on COVID 19 that was held in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

With just about two-and-a-half hours allocated for the debate, as many as 15 Opposition parties wrote a signed letter to house chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asking for debate time to be raised to four hours since this was once in a century calamity.

“No, we have fixed the time and everyone must keep it,” Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh repeatedly said in the Upper House when Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma opened the debate.

A visibly irritated Sharma told the chair that it was unfair to have timelines for discussion on COVID pandemic, which has cost the country so much.

TMC leader Derek O Brien also later said that 15 parties had asked the chairman for extended timings.

Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh lamented lack of time to debate the issue saying what’s the point of a session if COVID-19 cannot be debated when over 80,000 people have died and cases have crossed five million today.

“Deeply disappointing that members were not allowed to speak fully on the COVID-19 situation in the Rajya Sabha today. What is the point of having this session and MPs coming from all over the country, if even on COVID-19 MPs have severe time restrictions while speaking,” said Ramesh.

The government for its part is unfased and cited the fact that Health Minister Harsh Vardhan wasn’t allowed to even read a full Statement on COVID-19 in the Lok Sabha on Monday and was asked to lay the same due to paucity or time and pending electorate agenda.

Vardhan had been cut short by LS Speaker Om Birla just 12 minutes into the COVID-19 status statement in the Lower House on Monday.

The Health Minister had also looked visibly perturbed by time restrictions, but had no choice other than simply laying his written statement on the table.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise with over 90,000 daily infections reported on Wednesday.

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