Budget session may not witness BJP walkouts

February 24th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Parliament’s budget session beginning Monday could be a more businesslike affair this time with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) indicating it would not disrupt proceedings with its customary walkouts. However, the business-packed two-and-a-half-month-long session would witness the usual heated debates with both the BJP and the government’s Communist allies attacking it on various issues.

BJP MP Santosh Gangwar told IANS that while the party would put the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on the mat on the issue of rising prices, the worsening agrarian crisis and the intensifying Maoist attacks in different states, he indicated the party would desist from creating frequent ruckus and staging walkouts as it had done during the last budget, monsoon and winter sessions.

The session, which will have 35 sittings, will begin with President Pratibha Patil addressing both houses of parliament Monday.

“This is the fourth year of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government. However, there is no respite for the common man, who is suffering due to the spiralling price rise. We will definitely raise the issue in parliament,” Gangwar told IANS.

“Nothing is being done by this government over farmers’ suicides. More than 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years,” he said. The BJP demand for early elections in Karnataka and the party raising the issue of increasing threats to internal security could add to the likely turbulence during the two-and-a-half-month-long budget session.

The BJP would also protest the “government’s move to delay the assembly elections in Karnataka” and raise the issue of the controversial Sethusamudram canal project.

“The BJP wants elections (in Karnataka) by the end of May and we will press for the demand in both the houses,” BJP spokesperson Vijay Kumar Malhotra said.

The opposition has given 75 notices for discussions under rules 184 and 193 in the Lok Sabha alone.

The Rs.240 billion-Sethusamudram canal project off the Tamil Nadu coast had seen the BJP disrupting parliamentary proceedings for days during the last monsoon and winter session. The BJP and its ally Shiv Sena maintain the canal project would destroy the bridge-like formation known as Ram Setu mentioned in the epic Ramayana.

However, UPA ally DMK will be pressurising the government to go ahead with it. The DMK claims the canal project would dramatically improve the economic condition of the state.

The government is expected to submit a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court on the Ram Setu by the first week of March.

The BJP’s recent demand to bring in the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill is also likely to put the government in a dilemma as many in the UPA are yet to agree with the legislation to provide 33 percent reservation for women in parliament and legislative assemblies.

With 10 states to hold assembly polls this year and rumours of early general elections, the government is believed to be preparing a string of populist measures including the Right to Education (RTE) bill.

The session will go for recess March 21-April 14 and continue till May 9.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad will present the Railway Budget for 2008-09 on Feb 26. Three days later, on Feb 29, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram will present the General Budget. The Economic Survey would be presented on Feb 28.

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