New Delhi: The second leg of the Budget session will commence on Monday with the government asserting that its priority is to pass the Finance Bill and the Opposition planning to raise issues like the action of central agencies against the BJP’s political rivals and allegations against the Adani group. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge asserted that they want to play a constructive role in making the government accountable and sought a discussion in the House on “every burning issue facing the nation”.
Rajya Sabha Chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar sought views of leaders of various political parties on ways to curb disruptions in the House at a meeting held on Sunday. Opposition members raised the issue of alleged misuse of central agencies against non-BJP governments and the move to appoint Dhankhar’s personal staff on parliamentary committees.
The opposition parties will meet on Monday morning to evolve their strategy in both Houses of Parliament after protests by them on the Hindenburg-Adani issue overshadowed most of the first half of the Budget session.
Manickam Tagore, Congress Whip in Lok Sabha, told PTI that his party wants the Opposition to take a united stand.
“We will continue to raise people’s issues – price rise, LPG cost, Adani, misuse of agencies, farmers issues, governors’ intervention. We will continue to work with all like-minded parties. Tomorrow’s meeting is called for the purpose as we want the Opposition to be united.”
Congress leader K Suresh maintained that his party would continue to demand answers from the government on the Adani-Hindenburg issue as it has been keeping a studied silence.
The principal opposition party has been pressing for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.
The opposition parties are also likely to vociferously raise the issue of recent raids by the CBI and the ED against their leaders, some of whom were questioned and even arrested in various cases. They have accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of misusing the central agencies to target leaders of the BJP’s rival parties.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjunram Meghwal told PTI on Sunday that the top-most priority for the government is the passage of the Financial Bill.
He said discussions will be held on demands for grants of ministries including Railways, Panchayati Raj, Tourism, Culture and Health. Speaker Om Birla will later apply the guillotine, after which all the outstanding demands for grants, whether discussed or not, will be put to vote and passed.
“Then we will get the Finance Bill passed. After that we’ll look into the demands of the Opposition… The first responsibility of the government is to get the Finance Bill passed. Then we will hold discussions on issues the Opposition’s demands,” he said.
The session, which began on January 31, is likely to conclude on April 6. Parliament is meeting after a month-long recess which allows various parliamentary panels to scrutinise allocations made in the Union Budget for different ministries.
On Monday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present Supplementary Demands for Grants – Second Batch for 2022-23.
She will also table the budget for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the year 2023-24 in Lok Sabha. The UT is at present under central rule.
The two items are listed in the order paper of Lok Sabha for Monday.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Kharge and Dhankhar also had a one-on-one meeting on Sunday.
“Met @VPIndia, ahead of the forthcoming session of the Parliament to seek his cooperation,” Kharge said in a tweet.
“We as Opposition parties are keen to play a constructive role in making the Government accountable and would want discussion on every burning issue facing the nation,” he said.
Met @VPIndia, ahead of the forthcoming session of the Parliament to seek his cooperation.
We as, Opposition parties are keen to play a constructive role in making the Government accountable and would want discussion on every burning issue facing the nation. pic.twitter.com/aO82nO2k23
— Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha (@LoPIndia) March 12, 2023
Kharge had on Friday accused the Narendra Modi government of making “sinister attempts to kill democracy” by misusing probe agencies against opposition leaders, as he slammed the Centre over the ED searches on the premises of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad’s family.
The Samajwadi Party, the Left and the DMK were among those who protested against the alleged attack on the federal structure and the “misuse” of institutions.
The Trinamool Congress will raise in Parliament issues such as LIC and SBI’s risk exposure, price rise of essential commodities, unemployment and “misuse” of central agencies during the second phase of the session, its Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek O’Brien had recently said.
He said LIC’s risk exposure and price rise affect the lives of the common man and their savings and should be highlighted.
The TMC will also raise the issue of “political vendetta” against non-BJP ruled states in Parliament and also question the Union government on “holding back of funds for schemes such as MNREGA”, O’Brien said.
At the meeting with Dhankhar, several floor leaders raised the issue of the appointment of his personal staff on parliamentary committees.
The vice president responded by saying that the sole purpose behind the move was to achieve optimisation of human resources and the output of committees.
The staffers were not participating members of the committee and are just there to assist, facilitate and provide research material, he was quoted as saying.
Dhankhar, sources said, asserted that he was committed to improving the functioning of the committees.
At the all-party meeting, AAP raised the issue of alleged misuse of investigative agencies and the Adani-Hindenburg matter.
Its leader and former deputy chief minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia has been recently arrested by the CBI and the ED in cases related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. Former Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain is already in jail on charges of money laundering.
The opposition parties are also gearing up to corner the government on issues such as the China border row and unemployment.