New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Union Budget without any debate amid din, leading to a walkout by members of the Congress and Trinamool, while the TDP, YSR Congress, AIADMK and SP protested near the Speaker’s podium. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved the Finance Bill 2018, as well as the Appropriation Bill amid the din, which were passed by voice vote.
The Lower House has been witnessing protests over a number of issues, including the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, special economic status to Andhra Pradesh, and setting up of the Cauvery Water Management Board. The same issues rocked the House on Wednesday right from the moment it met. Amid protests, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar requested Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to take up the financial business at 12 p.m., to which she agreed.
“Keeping in view the urgency involved in financial business, we cannot defer the same any longer hence guillotine in respect of demand for grant 2018-19 which is scheduled for 5 p.m., will not be taken up immediately after laying of papers,” the Speaker said.
When the House met at 12 p.m., members from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), YSR Congress, AIADMK and the Samajwadi Party (SP) trooped near the Speaker’s podium and started raising slogans. While the TDP and YSR Congress are demanding a special economic status for Andhra Pradesh, the AIADMK is demanding a board for management of the Cauvery river water. The Samajwadi Party has been protesting against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government in Uttar Pradesh, urging Mahajan to “save democracy”, after Gorakhpur District Magistrate Rajeev Routela refused entry to journalists at the counting centre and no poll leads were given out after the first round.
Members from the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Left parties, who have been protesting over the PNB fraud case, were seen standing at their seats, as the Speaker went ahead with the different bills related to passing the demands for grants and the finance bill.
As the Speaker went ahead with the process, the members standing near the Speaker’s podium continued to raise slogans, while the Congress, TMC, Left and other MPs protested against the manner in which the bills were passed.
The Congress and the Trinamool members staged a walkout later, calling it a “murder of parliamentary democracy”.
Members from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), including party leader Mohammad Salim, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, Bhagwant Mann of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and some other members were seen joining the chorus with SP members who were near the Speaker’s podium, shouting slogans alleging murder of democracy.
On Tuesday, members from the opposition parties, including the Congress, Left, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and some other parties had written to Mahajan protesting against the listing of guillotining of bills related to demands for grants, which was mentioned in the List of Business on Tuesday as well.
As per the usual practice, Parliament debates demands for grants for some selected ministries, before all demands for grants are passed together, which is called the process of guillotine. Once the demands for grants were passed through voice vote, members in the treasury benches were seen thumping their desks to welcome it. The passage of the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill completes the budget exercise in the Lok Sabha.
While the two Bills will now go to the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House does not have a say in passing Finance Bills, and can only return the bills within 14 days. If the bills are not returned to the Lok Sabha in this time frame, they are considered returned.
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After the passage of the bill without discussion, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai expressed his concern and termed it “dangerous precedent”. He further said, “Sorry Prime Minister, this is not the Gujarat Assembly where you can use a brute majority to bulldoze legislation”.
With inputs from IANS