Rejecting opposition criticism, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday that Parliament's winter session will be held and it will be a regular session not overlapping with the Gujarat Assembly election dates.
"Certainly, the winter session will be held and it will be a regular session. We are going to ensure that a regular winter session is held and it does not overlap with election dates," he told the media after a Cabinet meeting here.
Jaitley was asked about the opposition charge that the government was trying to avoid debates on issues like unemployment, corruption, Goods and Services Tax and allegations against BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jay Shah, ahead of the Gujarat election on December 9 and 14.
"In a democracy, when elections are held, political parties address people directly. Elections and Parliament sessions generally do not overlap. This has been the practice in the past. Even the winter session has been deferred, altered and broken into parts," he said.
Jaitley said even when general elections were held, passage of the Budget was deferred and Parliament adjourned so that parties were free to participate in electioneering.
Asked if the winter session extending into January 2018 would be treated as a new session, he said: "It has already been settled that once the winter session starts and goes into January, it is not the first session (of the year)."
Jaitley's remarks came amid speculation that the winter session will begin after the end of polling in Gujarat on December 14.
The session dates, to be decided by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, may be announced after getting the Presidential nod on an ordinance to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code sent to him.
Normally, an ordinance can be promulgated only when Parliament is not in session and has not been called.
The Congress and the BJP have been at loggerheads over the winter session, with the opposition accusing the government of trying to avoid exposure over embarrassing issues ahead of the Gujarat elections.