Predictably, the eight day long Budget session of Haryana vidhan sabha turned out to be a slinging match between the ruling Congress and the opposition led by Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
While certain parts of the state were in absolute turmoil due to the ongoing Jat agitation -initially over demands of including the community in the other backward classes (OBC) list and subsequently over the killing of a youth-both the ruling party and opposition legislators were busy playing the blame game in the House.
The last two days of the assembly session saw several opposition MLAs being named and suspended from the sitting of the House. The Opposition MLAs wanted to have a discussion on the Jat agitation-violence and created ruckus after being denied an opportunity. The treasury benches on the other hand accused the opposition INLD of inciting the agitators.
Unfortunately, what could have become an ideal platform to hammer out a volatile issue turned out to be a playground for settling personal and party scores. As in the past also, the ruling Congress showed its intolerance to criticism.
On the other hand, the opposition led by Om Prakash Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) too was found wanting in its delivery and lacked the much needed punch in their attack.
The INLD in fact seems to have done little homework while formulating its line of attack, a fact amply demonstrated in the address of leader of opposition, Om Prakash Chautala whose assertions on "land acquired by Haryana government for Special Economic Zones" was challenged regularly by the treasury benches.
When he spoke on the Budget, Chautala started off well by saying - it was an old habit of the government to present a tax-free budget and subsequently burden the common man with new taxes.
However, the former chief minister could not effectively pin down the government on its move of withdrawing a proposed 5 % value added tax (VAT) levy on sugar and textiles from April 1 by omitting the tax proposal from the Budget estimates being presented in the House.
A gifted orator, Chautala was the mainstay of the opposition attack while it was the parliamentary affairs minister, Randeep Singh Surjewala who held the fort on the government's side.
Battling a severe lower back problem, a visibly distressed Surjewala stood up to counter all the criticism that was heaped on the treasury benches by the opposition. From the BJP side, it was the Ambala Cantt MLA, Anil Vij who despite his limitations tried to unsettle the ruling benches with his critical comments.
Too much time of the House was lost on the issue of setting up of Miri Piri Medical College in Shahbad which is allegedly controlled by Punjab chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal and his son. The ruling Congress and the opposition INLD sparred bitterly over the matter which had come up during the address of a Congress MLA.
Finance minister, Harmohinder Singh Chatha who presented his first Budget looked in a tearing hurry to complete his reply on the discussion on budget estimates. With the entire opposition out from the House, the finance minister did not ruffle any feathers while quickly finishing his brief reply.
The tabling of 16 legislative bills on the last day of the assembly session speaks volumes about the importance the government attaches on having a generous discussion on the proposed legislations.