GST, intolerance top Congress’ agenda for winter session

Congress leader and deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma on Tuesday said the upcoming winter session of Parliament cannot be restricted to a bill of the government, but certain issues like debate over rising intolerance in the country, farmers’ suicide will be top agenda for the Opposition.

“The session cannot be restricted to one bill of the government. Yes, Parliament has legislative agenda and business to transact but, at the same time, there are other issues that Parliament has to discuss. It is the highest forum of discussion and debate in a parliamentary democracy. There are concerns before the country today when it comes to constitutional rights and guarantees which are under attack,” Sharma told ANI in an exclusive interview here.

Sharma also expressed concern over rising intolerance in the country, saying the “attack on the freedom to dissent is unhealthy development for a democracy”.

“The freedom of debate, the freedom to dissent, there has been attack on that. And these concerns have been expressed individually by a number of eminent Indians ranging from scientists to doctors to authors, poets, filmmakers, who do not belong to any ideology and are not part of the political opposition of the government. Even their right to complain and protest is being suppressed. Instead of the government listening to them, the government frowns upon them, humiliates the dissenters and this is not a healthy development for the Indian democracy,” Sharma said.

Sharma further said the rise in price of essential commodities and escalating farmers’ suicide will be some of the issues raised in the winter session.

“There are a large number of other issues. Thousands of farmers are committing suicide. There is a very sharp escalation of food commodity prices. The kitchen budget is now beyond many of the common households.

“Is Parliament supposed only to discuss what the Prime Minister and his government want just one bill? Let’s also not forget that this bill was pending for five years. And the then Opposition had engaged in partisan politics and had opposed it. The Congress party and the UPA is the author of this bill,” he added.

“They have opened multiple windows. They have diluted what the GST was. They have defeated the purpose of the GST to create a genuine common market. There is lack of clarity as to what will be the final percentage,” Sharma said.(ANI)