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Pranab appeals to Indra to give rain, smokers to quit fags

delhi Updated: Feb 26, 2010 17:39 IST
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He invoked rain god Indra for better monsoon to drive the economy and sought to sprinkle humour in his budget speech by referring to India as a nation of "movie-goers", but Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's efforts did not appear to impress the opposition much.

Unlike the charged speech by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in the Lok Sabha two days ago, Mukherjee's was read out in one pitch, barring some murmurs when he spoke of schemes for poll-bound West Bengal, but the atmosphere changed when he announced duty enhancement for petroleum products.

BJP and its NDA allies, along with the Left parties, Samajwadi Party and Lalu Prasad's RJD were up on their feet.

Mukherjee's voice was drowned in the din and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi was seen using the ear-phone to listen to him. She even asked Prasad to use the gadget but he soon walked out along with the entire opposition.

"Please do not prevent presentation of the budget. It is a constitutional requirement. Please allow me to read (the budget speech). You have the right to debate and discuss," Mukherjee pleaded, but to no avail.

Interestingly, NDA Working Chairman L K Advani was apparently caught unawares when Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj walked out. As he slowly got up from his seat, Ananth Kumar walked up to him and accompanied him out of the House.