The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, till yesterday the government’s major ally, joined hands with arch-rival the All India Anna DMK and other Tamil Nadu political parties on Wednesday to reject the request of Finance Minister P Chidambaram for a structured debate on Union Budget 2013 in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, and the passage of the Budget.
The DMK’s Trichy Siva and the AIADMK’s Dr V Maitreyan were categorical that they will not allow the finance minister to reply in the Rajya Sabha on the Budget on Thursday.
"How can you come to us for a debate when the United Nations Human Rights Council will be discussing the US resolution on Sri Lankan Tamils in Geneva,” shouted the two Rajya Sabha members at the UPA2 ministers.
The incident happened in the Business Advisory Committee meeting of the Rajya Sabha presided over by Chairman Hamid Ansari, where they wanted to reach a compromise on getting the budget passed. When Chidambaram suggested that the members allot one day for the Budget discussion the Tamil Nadu MPs shouted down the UPA2.
It was for the first time that DMK and AIADMK were on the same page in opposing the government
Chidambaram made three suggestions for passing the Budget in the Rajya Sabha, which is a technical requirement. For even if the upper house does not approve the Budget’s passage, after 15 days President Pranab Mukherjee can sign the file for release of salaries to lakhs of government employees.
But since the 16th day is March 29, Good Friday and a holiday, and the following day a Saturday, Chidambaram asked permission from Chairman Ansari to allot half a day for discussion. The other two options, he said, were to pass the budget in the din, or to have no debate but with the chairman asking members to place their speeches on the table and consider that the house had discussed the Budget.
But the Tamil parties vehemently opposed the finance minister’s suggestions. Ravi Shankar Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Sitaram Yechury from the Communist Party of India-Marxist supported them and finally managed to work out a middle path.
Accordingly, on Thursday the Rajya Sabha will discuss the Union Budget for half an hour with the DMK and AIADMK MPs in the well of the house holding posters on ‘genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils’ -- but they will allow Chairman Ansari to conduct the business
Chidambaram wanted the budget of Jharkhand -- under central rule -- to be passed likewise. The CPM agreed to the proposal but the BJP opposed it.
For the first time, according to an eye-witness, Chidambaram was seen to be agitated, as he probably didn’t expect the DMK to make things difficult for him so soon.