An invitation by the Delhi Legislative Assembly to former Union finance minister and BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha — to conduct a ‘budget workshop’ for MLAs — created some buzz in political circles, with speculation about the sidelined BJP leader being wooed by the AAP.
However, functionaries of the assembly maintained that such workshops with political leaders across party lines have been routinely held in the past.
Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said, “Too much is being read into the invitation to Yashwant Sinha. One has to move beyond party lines and look at the merit of the person. He has presented several budgets at the Centre and has great understanding of the process.”
“We had two options — Sinha and P Chidambaram — but we first extended an invitation to Sinha because he can comfortably converse in Hindi and most of our legislators are Hindi-speaking. He accepted our invitation within two days and that is how this was finalised. The invitation was sent by the secretary of the Delhi Legislative Assembly on my directions and not by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal,” added Goel.
The three-hour workshop is slated to be held on March 15, a week before the assembly budget session starts on March 22. Goel added that following the first assembly session last year, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and BJP leader S S Ahluwalia, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and leaders from JD (U), Biju Janata Dal, Congress had held a two-day workshop for the MLAs.
“The workshop will have Sinha, the finance secretary and the Delhi finance minister speaking at length on the intricacies of budget-making and implementation. This is to familiarise our legislators with the intricacies of a budget,” said the Speaker.
“It is not true that Sinha will mentor them on how to make a budget because that part is taken care of by the state government. This is for legislators to know the different components of a budget such as plan, non-plan, deficit, etc. Such things should not be politicised but seen as knowledge-sharing,” said Goel.