PM seeks debate on budget, Oppn questions budget dates
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sought the opposition's support for smooth functioning of the Budget Session of Parliament in an all party meet, but opposition members made a vocal protest against the budget presentation on February 1, around a month earlier than usual.
Opposition members also said they will raise the issue of demonetisation, ceasefire violations and internal security in the brief session - ten days in total and eight working days.
Trinamool Congress had announced it will not attend the all party meeting, and the first two days of the Parliament session protesting demonetisation. Ruling National Democratic Alliance member Shiv Sena was also missing from the meeting.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the Prime Minister appealed to the opposition members to ensure peaceful debate in parliament, even if there are political differences.
"The Prime Minister called Parliament a 'Maha Panchayat' and said that differences may arise between parties but democracy should win and there should be debate in Parliament," he said.
Ananth Kumar said parties agreed that debate should take place."All parties, especially those in the opposition, said they wanted debate and both houses should function," he added.
Asked about the absence of Trinamool Congress, and Shiv Sena, the minister said: "There are elections going on, there are some civic elections as well." Opposition leaders meanwhile said they aired their objections to the budget date, before the start of assembly elections in five states on February 4, in the all party meeting, adding that they wanted to debate demonetisation issue in the session.
Talking to reporters after an all-party meeting in the Parliament Library Building, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said the decision to advance the budget was against democratic practices.
"The way the government has decided to present the budget on February 1 is undemocratic. Our government in 2012 postponed the budget till elections," he said.
Scindia said his party would raise issues like demonetisation, increase in ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and security scenario in the country. "This half of the session is short, so we have asked the government to allocate two days for discussing these issues and three days for motion of thanks to the President's address," he said.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said the decision to have an early budget will have consequences. "They will only have data till the second quarter of the year, the figures of the third quarter will not be there.
"Demonetisation has had such adverse impact on the economy. Its effect will not be taken into account because the figures will not be available," Yechury said. "The government should postpone the budget." He said his party too wanted a discussion on demonetisation.
Asked about the opposition's demand to postpone the budget, Ananth Kumar said: "This is the nation's budget, for the benefit of the nation. The Supreme Court has given its verdict." The Trinamool meanwhile hardened its stance, announcing that its members will not attend Parliament on the first two days of Parliament session. "Trinamool MPs will not be present in Parliament on the first two days of the Budget session in protest against demonetisation, which was implemented without taking Parliament into confidence, and restrictions on withdrawal limits from bank accounts which are still in force," said a party statement.