Oppn walks out, BJP to vote against budget | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Oppn walks out, BJP to vote against budget

An unprecedented drama in our parliamentary history unfolded — an Opposition walkout during a budget presentation — as Mukherjee said he “proposed to restore the basic duty of 5 per cent on crude petroleum; 7.5 per cent on diesel, petrol and 10 per cent on other refined products”.

delhi Updated: Feb 27, 2010 00:34 IST
HT Political Bureau

All was well till Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced a proposal to hike prices of petrol and diesel.

An unprecedented drama in our parliamentary history unfolded — an Opposition walkout during a budget presentation — as Mukherjee said he “proposed to restore the basic duty of 5 per cent on crude petroleum; 7.5 per cent on diesel, petrol and 10 per cent on other refined products”.

Allies Trinamool Congress and DMK, too, appeared unhappy with the proposal.

Worried over the Left making the hike a big issue in West Bengal, which goes to polls early next year, the Trinamool has asked the government to keep the decision in abeyance. “It would not be proper to impose greater burden on the people, who are already suffering from a high rate of inflation,” said the party’s chief whip in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay.

For the DMK, the decision to cut fertiliser subsidy from Rs 76,000 crore to Rs 45,000 crore has not gone down well.

Though Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi lauded the budget, DMK leaders said they might decide to “persuade” the government it decision.

As soon as Mukherjee completed the sentence, activity began in the Opposition camp — Sharad Yadav, Basudeb Acharia, Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav were seen confabulating. Sharad spoke to Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, and immediately, the entire Opposition stunned the government by walking out.

Cutting across party lines, the slogan-shouting MPs marched straight to TV cameras.

“This has happened for the first time and the government is responsible for it,” Acharia said.

“We were patiently listening to the speech, the announcement to hike prices of petroleum products was the provocation. We can’t remain silent to the sufferings of the common man,” said Swaraj.

The BJP said it will vote against the budget. “We are going to oppose the Budget. Cut-motion is a prerogative available and we will bring it to censure the government on its anti-people policies,” former finance minister Yashwant Sinha said.

The man of the moment, however, was Lalu.

Mobbed by cameras, he used the occasion to shout slogans against the government: “Jo sarkar nikammi hai who sarkar badalni hai (the incompetent government has to be changed).”

Mulayam warned of street protests. “I appeal to the public to support us like they did during the Emergency.”