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Budget session of Parliament: Sonia Gandhi to meet senior Congress leaders on Saturday to finalise strategy


New Delhi:Congress President Sonia Gandhi will hold deliberations with senior party leaders on Saturday to firm up the party strategy for the upcoming Budget session at a time when Opposition and Government have locked horns over a number of contentious issues.

The meeting will take place soon afer Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari holds discussion with leaders of all parties of the Upper House on Saturday ahead of the Budget session beginning February 23. Congress has upped the ante against Government on the JNU row in the wake of a sedition case against the varsity’s students union president Kanhaiya Kumar, dalit scholar of Hyderabad University Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the imposition and susequent revocation of President’s Rule in the party-ruled Arunachal Pradesh.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today urged parties not to be “disruptive Opposition”, stressing that dissent, disruption and disturbance should not dominate debate, discussion and decision.

The Congress meeting also comes ahead of two separate all party meetings called on Monday by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu during which the government is likely to make a fresh appeal to Opposition parties to help pass key reform bills like GST, which is stuck in Rajya Sabha. The meeting called by Ansari tomorrow is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On February 16, the Prime Minister had reached out to the opposition by holding a meeting of leaders of major political parties. In the first-ever exercise initiated by Modi against the backdrop of repeated stalling of sessions, he sought their cooperation saying, “I am not the Prime Minister of BJP alone but the entire country.”

He had also expressed the hope that Parliament will function and assured opposition parties that the government will work to address their concerns during the Budget session. Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks majority, had seen repeated disruption in the Monsoon and Winter sessions with Congress and several other opposition parties blocking key economic reform measures of the Modi government.

Naidu had last month met Congress President Sonia Gandhi seeking cooperation for the early passage of the crucial GST and the real estate bills. However, immediately after the meeting, Congress made it clear that there was no forward movement on the issue, claiming that the government did not make any substantial offer on its demand for certain changes in the bill.

The Budget session of Parliament will commence on February 23 and will focus largely on the financial business of the government. The General Budget will be presented on February 29.

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