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Curtains on Parliament's Budget Session; RS witnesses stormy scenes

Curtains on Parliaments Budget Session; RS witnesses stormy scenes
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New Delhi: The Budget Session of Parliament concluded on Thursday, a day ahead of schedule with the Rajya Sabha witnessing stormy scenes as the opposition disallowed Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to complete his customary valedictory address.

The Session, which had 27 sittings spread over two months, witnessed spirited debates on a range of issues, while opposition members said the Narendra Modi government had concluded the proceedings ahead of schedule as it wanted to "run away" from the debate on high fuel prices.

While proceedings in the Lok Sabha were by and large smooth, the Rajya Sabha witnessed an angry exchange between Naidu and opposition members, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Derek O'Brien who wanted a discussion on repeated hike in fuel prices.

"Parliament has been closed two days before even though they gave the agenda for up to Friday. We feel that the government is not keen to resolve the problems of the poor, unemployed and farmers. The government is not ready for a discussion and ended Parliament two days ahead of schedule," Kharge told reporters at a joint press conference.

Noting that the government had allocated time for a discussion on price rise during the meeting of the business advisory committee (BAC) of the Lok Sabha and for crucial Bills in the BAC meeting of the Rajya Sabha, the leader of Congress in the Lower House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that the government has resorted to "breach of commitment" by not allowing so.

In the Rajya Sabha, Shiv Sena members Sanjay Raut and Priyanka Chaturvedi tried to raise the issue of FIR registered against the BJP's Kirit Somaiya for allegedly siphoning off donations collected for saving INS Vikrant.

Congress members supported the Shiv Sena with some remarking that the issue of spiralling prices of essential commodities, including those of petrol, diesel and cooking gas wasn't allowed to be raised in the entire session, but at least "this scam" should be discussed.

However, Naidu rejected the opposition plea and called for Zero Hour. As opposition members trooped into the Well, Naidu adjourned the proceedings sine die without the customary valedictory address.

"Rajya Sabha adjourned two days early... To suit its political convenience, Modi government ran away from discussion on price rise, broken promises to farmers, and the Labour Minister didn't even reply to debate on labour & (un)employment," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said.

Ramesh contended that since Parliament was adjourned at 11:00 am on Thursday, no business could be transacted and it amounted to proceedings of two days being washed out.

Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi hit back at Ramesh claiming that he was "lying". Joshi claimed that the Congress leaders had made the suggestion to the Rajya Sabha Chairman to end the session early.

The Budget Session had begun on January 31 with the address of President Ram Nath Kovind to the joint sitting of both the Houses. It was followed by the presentation of the Union Budget by Union Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1.

The first half of the Budget Session concluded on February 11 when Parliament went into recess to examine the budget papers.

The session resumed on March 14 and concluded on Thursday, a day ahead of schedule after completion of the budgetary process and passage of key Bills such as the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill and the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill.

"The total productivity of the eighth session of the 17th Lok Sabha was 129 per cent," Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said, noting that the House had 27 sittings.

Birla said members also sat late for 40 hours to discuss issues of national importance.

The Rajya Sabha lost nearly nine-and-a-half hours due to disruptions and forced adjournments, but made up for the lost time by sitting extra for nine hours and 16 minutes, Naidu said.

"The productivity of the House during the Budget Session was 99.8 per cent. If only the House had functioned for 10 more minutes, the productivity would have been 100 per cent," Naidu said.

The Lok Sabha passed 12 Bills, including the Finance Bill, Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill.

The Rajya Sabha passed 11 Bills, including six appropriation Bills and Finance Bills that were returned.

The Lok Sabha also had short duration discussions on climate change, the situation in Ukraine and the need to promote sports in India.

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