Amid protests, Congress confident of passing test of strengthApril 27th, 2010 - 12:26 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was Tuesday set to move cut motions in the Lok Sabha on the budget proposals to hike prices of fuels and fertilisers but the treasury was confident of passing the test of strength.
The cut motions were planned even as 13 opposition parties led by the Left Front began a 12-hour nationwide strike to protest what they termed the government’s inability to check prices, disrupting life in West Bengal, Kerala, Orissa and parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Most political parties, including members of the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance, issued their respective whips to lawmakers to be present in the lower house of parliament when a guillotine — a procedure that combines all ministry-related demands for grants — is scheduled around 6 p.m.
The cut motions, proposed just ahead of the guillotine, is expected to call for reducing the budgetary support for the ministries of petroleum and fertilisers by a token Re.1 to lodge dissent and called “disapproval of policy cut” as per parliamentary procedures.
When budget proposals are presented in parliament for approval, a lawmaker or a party can question specific allocations with a cut motion. If it is carried in the house, it amounts to a vote of no confidence and the government is obliged to quit.
But the treasury was confident of braving the dissent.
“The financial business will be cleared. There is no problem at all,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, even as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has 21 MPs in the Lok Sabha, decided to support the government to defeat the cut motions.
“Where is the question of feeling threatened,” added Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, even as his party colleagues claimed they had the clear support of 271 MPs in the 543-member house.
“We never said we have the numbers. This is a protest against the government’s failure and policies,” said Gurudas Dasgupta, adding that the main aim was to put pressure on the ruling party.
The day began with disruptions to normal life in West Bengal, Orissa, Kerala and parts of Uttar Pradesh when 13 opposition parties led by the Left Front began a 12-hour nationwide protest against what they termed the government’s inability to check prices.
In Kolkata and Lucknow, air, train and road transport services were particularly disrupted, while the streets of Thiruvananthapuram bore a deserted look after the closure of schools and businesses. In Orissa, vehicluar and rail traffic came to a halt.
“I have taken stock of the situation. There is widespread protest in Bihar. People have come out in full support to agitate against the price increase,” said Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad.
The 13 parties participating in the protests include the SP, Left parties, Telugu Desam Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Biju Janata Dal and the Lok Janshakti Party. Their main demand is the roll back in the prices of fuels, fertilizers and other essential commodities.
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