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Stormy start to Budget session

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New Delhi: Indications of a stormy start to the Budget session emerged at an all-party meeting today with opposition accusing the government of “setting the agenda for disruption” despite the latter reaching out to it expressing readiness to discuss all issues including the JNU row.

Dismissing the all-party meeting called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu as a mere “formality”, opposition leaders lamented that the Prime Minister and the BJP have not taken action against a single leader making “provocative” statements and put the ball in the government’s court for running the House.

The first showdown between the ruling and the opposition benches is expected in Rajya Sabha on February 24, the first working day of the session when the JNU issue could come up for discussion.

While the opposition has closed ranks to corner the government on it, BJP feels it stands to gain by turning the debate into one between “patriots and anti-nationals,” as a party leader said.

Making it clear that Opposition will not allow passage of any key bill in the first half of the session, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said opposition will “on merit” allow the passage of only those bills on which there is general consensus.

“Contentious bills should not be brought. Bring only those bills on which there is a general agreement. Bills like GST will not come in the first half of the session,” Kharge said.

When asked whether GST Bill can be passed in the second half of the session, he evaded a direct reply, saying a view will be taken then.

The meeting saw a number of opposition as also BJP leaders demanding an early debate on the JNU row with CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury speaking of a “chilling parallel” to the current situation in the country with the one that led to rise of Fascism in Germany.

“The government is setting the agenda for Parliament’s disruption even before its session has begun. We have seen this agenda of BJP for last three-four sessions. The government creates a situation in the country that is responsible for disruption,” he said.

Naidu said the meeting was very positive and parties were in favour of running Parliament.

At a time when the government is reaching out separately to non-Congress and non-Left parties, Naidu said a number of regional parties feel that they were not getting adequate time to raise their issues due to disruptions in Parliament.

“Smaller parties had a complaint that they are not being able to raise their issues due to disruption. Government is ready to discuss all issues including the JNU and the dalit scholar suicide in Hyderabad University.”

Dismissing the meeting as a mere formality, Yechury, however, said the government should earmark time to discuss all the issues. “If the government does not earmark time for these, there will be disruptions.” .

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