Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Monday conveyed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the all-party meeting, said Parliament should function, despite differences which may crop up during the poll season. “The Prime Minister said that differences may arise between parties but democracy should win and there should be a debate in Parliament,” Kumar said. Kumar added that all parties, especially those in the opposition, said they wanted debate and both houses should function.
Asked about the opposition’s demand to postpone the budget, Kumar said, “This is the nation’s budget, for the benefit of the nation. The Supreme Court has given its verdict.” Opposition parties put on record their differences with the government on tabling the Union Budget on February 1, not just because of ongoing assembly polls in five states but also because economic data for the third quarter will not be factored into the document.
At an all party meet called by the government, opposition leaders were united in questioning the timing of the budget, even as Prime Minister Modi asked for Parliament to rise above party lines and come forward for discussion on various issues. “Parliament is a Mahapanchayat and I would request all parties to allow the House to run,” Modi is reported to have said, Kumar said.
Trinamool Congress and NDA ally Shiv Sena kept away from the meet. “Some parties could not attend not just due to assembly polls, but also local body polls in some states,” said Kumar explaining the absence of these parties. Opposition leaders demanded discussion on demonetisation and internal security and decried the abbreviated nature of the session.
“The presentation of the Budget on February 1 is not just unseemly with regard to polls in five states but also that the economic data from the third quarter will not be factored in,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said. “Demonetisation has had a devastating impact on the economy and the figures from the third quarter will not be available, so the Budget exercise won’t reflect this disruption at all,” he added. The Budget session of Parliament starts on Tuesday. The budget will be presented on Wednesday.