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Rediff.com  » News » Protests continue in Parliament; Budget passed without discussion

Protests continue in Parliament; Budget passed without discussion

Last updated on: March 14, 2018 16:24 IST

IMAGE: IMAGE: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks as Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu looks on during an on-going Budget Session, at Parliament House in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photographs: TV Grab via PTI Photo

Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed without discussion the Finance Bill 2018 and a Rs 89.25 lakh crore spending plan for the next fiscal year beginning April 1, all in a matter of 25 minutes during which opposition parties shouted slogans and created the din.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's 21 amendments to the Bill, which contains taxation proposals for 2018-19, were approved by voice vote, and so was the Appropriation Bill which detailed spending plans for 99 government ministries and departments.

 

With this, the Parliamentary approval for the Modi government's fifth and final Budget is complete in Lok Sabha.

It is probably the first time in recent years that the Lok Sabha had not discussed and voted even a single ministry's demand for grants (spending plan). In the recent past, Union budgets were passed without discussion in 2013-14 and 2003-04 when, like Wednesday, all demands were guillotined.

The amendments approved by the Lok Sabha included the one providing for grandfathering of capital gains accrued on unlisted entities till January 31. It also provided for methodology for valuation of capital gains.

IMAGE: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan reacts during the proceedings.

In the Budget for 2018-19 presented on February 1, Jaitley brought back a tax on long-term capital gains on listed equities.

Long-term capital gains of over Rs 1 lakh will be taxed at 10 per cent. However, all gains up to January 31, 2018 will be grandfathered, he had said in the Budget speech.

The Lok Sabha passed the appropriation bills after negating several cut motions moved by the opposition parties.

With opposition paralysing the functioning of Parliament in the second half of the Budget session over issues ranging from India's biggest bank fraud at Punjab National Bank to sharing of Cauvery waters and special package for Andhra Pradesh, the government decided to bring the budget for approval even though the session is scheduled to go on till April 6.

It was taken up soon after the House met after the first adjournment of proceedings at the beginning of the day.

Opposition parties cried foul over the move with the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Trinamool Congress staging a walkout while the Telgu parties -- Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress were in the well shouting slogans.

Samajwadi Party too was in the well of the house protesting clamp down on the media during the counting of votes for Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypoll.

Earlier, Congress, Trinamool, Dravida Munnetra Kazagam, Rashtriya Janata Dal, SP, Left, and NCP, among others, had submitted a memorandum to the Speaker, objecting to what it called was government's 'arrogance and unilateral move to bulldoze all financial business without discussing them in the House'.

The Lok Sabha also later passed, through a voice vote, the fourth batch of supplementary demands for grants for 2017-18. The fourth batch involved cash outgo of Rs 85,315 crore, mainly on compensating states for loss of revenue from implementation of goods and services tax.

Jaitley moved the Finance Bill 2018, which contains taxation proposals of his fifth and final budget, as well as the appropriation bill that details of spending in various departments, amid din created by slogan-shouting opposition. The bills were passed by voice vote.

IMAGE: Opposition members protest during the ongoing budget session in the Lok Sabha.

Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance has an absolute majority in the Lower House of Parliament.

The appropriation bill was approved after a guillotine was applied which essentially means that all outstanding demands for grants from various departments are put to vote at once whether they are discussed or not.

With the passage of the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill, the budget exercise is complete in the lower house.
Technically, the two Bills also have to go to Rajya Sabha but since they are money bill they would be considered approved if the Upper House of Parliament does not return them within 14 days.

The Opposition has an upper hand in the Rajya Sabha.

Neither Lok Sabha nor Rajya Sabha has transacted any substantial business in the past eight days.

Earlier this week, the BJP had issued a three-day whip to its members to be present in the House.

Budget passage is a constitutional obligation without which the government cannot spend a single penny on its functioning.

Opposition parties protested against the passing of the Budget without a debate as the session is to continue till April 6.

Rajya Sabha

Proceedings in the Rajya Sabha were washed out for the eighth straight day on Wednesday, amid uproar by the opposition and National Democratic Alliance partner Telugu Desam Party on multiple issues ranging from India's biggest Rs 12,700 crore banking fraud, special package to Andhra Pradesh and Cauvery water dispute.

The House was adjourned till 2 pm soon after it had assembled for the day. The Chair called it a day soon after it reassembled at 2 pm as uproarious scenes continued.

IMAGE: Protests in the Rajya Sabha.

When the Upper House re-assembled at 2 pm, the opposition members trooped into the Well raising slogans like ‘BJP Hatao, Desh Bachao’ (remove Bharatiya Janata Party, save the country) and displaying placards.

Amid the din, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, who was in the Chair, directed the Secretary General to read out a message from the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha Secretary General of the informed the House about the passage of the Finance Bill and the appropriation bills by the Lower House, amid din.

As the noisy protests continued, Kurien thereafter adjourned the House for the day.

Three of the Samajwadi Party members in the House -- R S Tiwari, Chandrapal Singh Yadav and Neeraj Shekhar donned red caps as counting trends in the Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha bypolls showed their party candidates leading in Phulpur and Gorakhpur, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's constitutency.

IMAGE: Rajya Sabha MPs observe silence to pay tribute to nine CRPF personnel who were killed in a Naxal attack in Sukma district and to noted scientist Stephen Hawking who died at the age of 76, on Wednesday.

Earlier, the proceedings were adjourned till 2 pm as several parties continued their protests over multiple issues.

Before the adjournment, the House mourned the death of former member VPM Samy and Stephen Hawking, the legendary British theoretical physicist. The House also expressed grief at the death of nine paramilitary personnel killed in a Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, as well as 10 trekkers killed in a recent forest fire in Tamil Nadu.

Soon after the listed papers were laid, several MPs trooped into the Well shouting slogans.

While the Trinamool Congress and Congress led the charge against the bank fraud in the Punjab National Bank, Tamil Nadu parties carried banners demanding immediate constitution of Cauvery Water Management Board on the river water sharing.

Members of the TDP carried placards demanding a special package for Andhra Pradesh.

The members stood in silence as a mark of respect to the departed souls.

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked the members to return to their seats and allow the Zero Hour proceedings.

"This is not the way," he said, ordering that no part of the protest would either go on record or be shown on television.

He then adjourned the House till 2 pm.

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