The budget session of the Jammu and Kashmir legislature is likely to begin on a stormy note tomorrow with opposition parties planning to protest the recent government order barring its employees from airing political views on social media and take up other issues. The rival parties are also expected to oppose forcefully the government’s move to allow indirect election of sarpanches by panches instead of a direct election. The session would begin with Governor NN Vohra’s address to a joint sitting of the legislature and end on February 10. The Budget for the financial year 2018-19 would be presented by Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu on January 11. This will be his fourth budget on the trot. The Congress, National Conference and CPI(M) have termed “eye-wash” the government’s decision to regularize 60,000 casual and daily wagers in various departments. The issue is likely to be raised in the House. The opposition may also denounce the Mehbooba Mufti government over the ongoing strike by contractual employees, including of the National Health Mission, who are demanding regularization of their services. Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president G A Mir had earlier said the government order to its employees not to use social media for airing political views would be the biggest issue during the session. “The order shows how scared the government is. It is a totally undemocratic decision and if not withdrawn, it will be the biggest issue during the budget session,” Mir had said. In December last year, the government barred its employees from using social media for any political activity by amending the conduct rules governing them.
The state government added a sub-rule to the Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees Conduct rules which states that no government employee shall engage in any criminal, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct on social media which may be prejudicial to the government. The state Congress chief said the party legislators would question the government on its failure to implement its Agenda of Alliance, development inertia, tussle over political issues between the coalition partners and back door appointments. BJP state president Sat Sharma, however, said the opposition parties were bereft of issues as the state government had done well to mitigate the problems of the people and had taken the state to new heights of development. “The way development is going on in the state over the past three years, the opposition is left with no issues. It is merely a statement that we will corner the ruling party to raise public issues. They have no issues to rake up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, M K Bhandari said: “Security and all other arrangements are in place to ensure a smooth budget session.” He said there would be no problem as extensive drills and discussions have taken place over the past weeks especially related to security, traffic arrangements and other measures in connection with the session.