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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

In a first, house debates budget without opposition

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Shimla, February 10, 2014
First Published: 23:12 IST(10/2/2014) | Last Updated: 23:17 IST(10/2/2014)

Amid opposition Bharatiya Janata Party continuing its boycott, the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha on Monday debated the budget estimates presented by chief minister Virbhadra Singh for 2014-15 on Friday.

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On Monday, all opposition legislators abstained from the house. Just before speaker Brij Bihari Lal Butail could initiate the question hour, the CM rose up from his seat and condemned the opposition for staying away from the house.

“It is unfortunate that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members are giving preference to their prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's rally,” the CM said in the house.

Gujarat CM Narendra Modi is scheduled to address a 'parivartan' rally at Sujanpur in Hamirpur assembly segment on February 16.

“There is no other reason for them to abstain from the house,” the CM said, alleging that the BJP members were giving more importance to the rally than the house.

Stalemate in the Vidhan Sabha has been continuing for the last one week, with the opposition legislators repeatedly staging walkouts from the assembly.

In an unprecedented move, the opposition legislators had walked out when governor Urmila Singh was addressing the house on the first day. This was the first time that any opposition had walked out from the governor's address. For the first time in the state's political history, opposition legislators also stayed away from the CM's budgetary speech.

Breaking tradition

In the wake of the absence of opposition members, the Vidhan Sabha had to break away from its tradition where leader of opposition initiates the budget debate.

Himachal Lokhit Party chief Maheshwar Singh initiated the debate on Monday. He lauded the budget, while criticising the opposition for its repeated walkouts. During his speech, Maheshwar sought “quick” action against the “misdeeds” of the Dhumal government. “It was due to the rampant corruption that we had to leave our home (BJP).”

Criticising the walkouts and boycotts by the opposition, he said the state government should expedite investigations into the “scams and misdeeds of the previous BJP government”. “I know the media will term my address as one given by the B-team of Congress, but the CM's efforts to revive the state's economy cannot be denied,” he added.

He urged the CM to table a strong Lokayukta Bill on the analogy of the Centre's Lokpal Bill in the assembly during the current session.

Criticising the opposition, senior Congress leader and the Dalhousie legislator Asha Kumari said, “Opposition BJP is running away from its responsibility and its boycott is an unhealthy parliamentary practice.”


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