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Rediff.com  » News » Won't be party to rail budget passage sans debate: BJP

Won't be party to rail budget passage sans debate: BJP

April 30, 2013 16:16 IST

Opposition, including Bharatiya Janata Party, Left and other parties, on Tuesday walked out of the Lok Sabha, charging the government with indulging in one scam after another and saying they would not be party to the passage of the Finance Bill and the Railway Budget.

The Opposition protest came after Speaker Meira Kumar announced that the money bills would be passed without discussion, as decided by leaders of parties at a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee on Monday.

Maintaining that it had earlier been decided that discussion on the Budget would be taken up on April 23, she said, "however, under the prevailing circumstances as there is very limited time for completion of the financial business,... as was decided at the BAC yesterday, the Finance Bill, Appropriations Bills, Demand for Grants and the Rail Budget.... may be passed without discussion."

This led to objections by leaders of several parties with senior Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy raising a point of order saying the rules did not permit passage of money bills without any discussion.

Amid protests, Kumar then allowed Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj to speak. Her speech was followed by a walkout by BJP and Shiv Sena members.

Those from other parties, including Janata Dal-United, Left parties, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagma, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagma, Biju Janata Dal, Telugu Desam Party and Trinamool Congress also walked out separately, after their leaders had their say.

Lambasting the government for scams, Swaraj said each new scandal broke the past record and justified the week-long protests by BJP and other parties, saying as a responsible opposition it was their job to expose the "most corrupt government since independence".

"This government wants that we don't raise these issues. They don't just commit scams but also engage in various acts to protect the Prime Minister and the Law Minister," she said, with Congress members shouting back at her.

"The government is criticising our protests in Parliament. The prime minister says the Opposition's attitude is making us a laughing stock on the global arena. The media says this House has witnessed the highest number of disruptions. But the government itself is solely responsible for this situation," Swaraj said.

Swaraj blamed the government for stalling the PAC report on 2G scam by creating ruckus, preparing a draft JPC report on the issue which went "completely against the facts" and the law minister "changing the CBI report on the coal scam in his office".

"And now they claim that the law minister was only correcting grammatical mistakes," she said.

Terming the UPA government as "the most corrupt since Independence", the BJP leader a series of scams have surfaced since it took over and "each new scam breaks the past record."

While the Commonwealth Games scam had caused a loss of Rs 70,000 crore, the 2G spectrum scam led to a Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss and the coal scam resulted in the "loot" of Rs 1.86 lakh crore. "And they want to stop us from speaking out," she said.

Maintaining that a responsible opposition acted as a "watchdog", Swaraj asked, "Are we stopping the session for our personal interests or for quota permit for our family members?

Even the Supreme Court has said this government has broken the trust and shaken the foundations.

"Yesterday you called us for a meeting and said there will be financial crisis if the money bills are not passed. But we cannot be a party to their passage and neither can we obstruct their passage. So we will stage a walkout," she said.

Swaraj made it clear that only the four issues agreed at the BAC meeting on Monday -- Finance Bill, Appropriations Bills, Demand for Grants and the Rail Budget -- should be taken up. "No other business," she said.

She made it clear that after Supreme Court observations on CBI affidavit on coal blocks allocation scam, they "will not co-operate with the government in any manner".

To this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government has nothing to hide and was ready to discuss issues.

Nath said he was distressed to hear Opposition accusing the government of not allowing Parliament to run.

Through a point of order, Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy quoted rules of the House to say that money bills cannot be passed without discussion. It would set a bad precedent if such a thing happens, he said.

Roy contended that Parliament cannot pass Finance Bill or other money bill without discussion, "otherwise it will create a precedent for posterity. There is no provision (in the rules) for voting without discussion. Therefore, some discussion should be allowed, even if it is five minutes."

The Speaker then referred to earlier instances when money bills were passed without discussion and said, "It pains me that in such circumstances, we have to dispense with the discussion. The time for guillotine has been set at 1.30 pm.

"But, I have taken your point and I may allow some members to very briefly speak....," she said.

When she allowed Sharad Yadav to make his point, the JD-U chief said the country was in bad shape and attacked the government for not taking any effective action in the wake of various scams that have come to light.

He attacked Congress for not taking any action against those whose names have come up in the various scams, saying, "Your party (Congress) should act first, instead of the courts. To clean the system is your responsibility first."

Yadav then led his party members to stage walkout.

Accusing the government of being responsible for the Parliament logjam, CPM leader Basudeb Acharia said it was unfortunate to pass bills without discussion. "Government is responsible for creating this impasse by its obduracy," he said and demanded that JPC Chairman P C Chacko be removed.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said government has become insensitive as was evident in the JPC issue. He had a spat with Chacko who was present in the House. Acharia and Dasgupta, along with other Left members, then walked out.

Similar was the case with other party MPs who walked out separately as soon as their leaders finished speaking.

AIADMK's M Thambidurai remarked that the "government is unfit to rule" and demanded special package for Tamil Nadu, while BJD's B Mahtab sought a financial package for Odisha. TDP MP Nama Nageshwara Rao blamed Congress for not allowing debate on crucial issues like farmers' plight and coal scam.

UPA partner DMK leader T R Baalu, while disassociating with the points raised by opposition parties, also sought the removal of Chacko as the JPC chief and led a walkout of his party members.

When the Railway Budget was taken up, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay alleged that the Centre has discriminated against West Bengal by not giving any fund to all projects for the state, proposed by party chief Mamata Banerjee when she was the railway minister.

He also said the finance ministry had ignored the state by not granting it a special financial package which has been consistently raised by his party and the state government.

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