“We will not allow any debate on the budget,” said BJP chief whip Vijay Kumar Malhotra. Parliament has to pass the Finance Bill and demands for grants to complete the three-stage budgetary exercise.
Meanwhile, finance minister P Chidambaram appealed to the Opposition to allow a debate on the Finance Bill before it is approved by Parliament. “I will be disappointed if Rs 4,77,000 crore is appropriated without a debate or a discussion”, he said.
The Rs 40,000 crore railway Appropriation Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday without discussion.
The BJP on Tuesday continued to protest vehemently against the removal of Savarkar’s plaque from the Cellular Jail. Senior party leader and former Union information & broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad castigated the UPA government for the stalemate. He said that it was due to the government’s obstinacy that the Railway budget was passed in Parliament without debate. A similar fate will befall the general budget as the government is unwilling to listen to the Opposition, he added.
The government, however, put the passage of budget without debate in a different way. “The Opposition has ultimately agreed to cooperate in the passage of the Financial Bill and the general budget (2004-05) without any discussion,” parliamentary affairs minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here after he had separate meetings with Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, leader of the Opposition LK Advani, and other leaders of the BJP-led NDA.