Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met floor leaders of different parties on the eve of the Budget Session and told them that the two Houses should function despite differences that may emerge between these parties and the NDA government. Post-meeting, Opposition leaders questioned the timing of the Budget — it comes days before Assembly elections get under way in five states — and said they have told the government that they want to discuss issues of demonetisation and internal security during the session.
There is no move as of now to disrupt proceedings.
Since the first part of Budget Session, due to conclude on February 9, is very short, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad asked the government to hold another all-party meeting before the Houses meet on March 8 after the recess.
“The Prime Minister said that differences may arise between parties but democracy should win, and there should be a debate in Parliament,” Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar said after the meeting.
Kumar said Opposition leaders also maintained that they are in favour of a debate and want both Houses to function.
Several Opposition leaders said the economic data for the third quarter will not be available by February 1, when the budget will be presented. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said, “Demonetisation has had a devastating impact on the economy, and severely impacted people. In the absence of data for the third quarter, the Budget will not reflect this disruption.”
Stating that he suspects that the government wants to use the occasion to influence voting in the poll-bound states, Azad told the media later that he asked the government in the meeting to refrain from making populist announcements in the Budget. He pointed out that the UPA had postponed Budget due to the Assembly polls in 2012.
Congress chief whip in Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia said his party has sought a discussion on demonetisation.