The Finance Bill will be passed on May 3 in the Lok Sabha and on May 5 in the Rajya Sabha but not without the BJP, and the UPA's supporting partner, the Left parties, first making an issue of it in what is billed as a tumultuous second phase of Parliament's Budget session opening on Thursday. Besides the shadow of the human trafficking scandal and uncertainty about quotas-in-education, the results of the UP Assembly polls on May 11 are expected to ignite passions and lead to fireworks in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
The BJP and the Left, which consented to the dates for passing the Finance Bill at the all-party meeting on Wednesday, however, pointed out that since the minister was going abroad from May 6-10 when Parliament was in session, the government rushing with the Finance Bill.
"The minister should be tailoring his programme according to Parliament's schedule. In this case, Parliament is being asked to change its programme because of the minister,'' said BJP's VK Malhotra. Taking a dig at the Congress, he recalled that Jawaharlal Nehru had often spoken of the primacy of Parliament. CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta also objected to the impending ministerial absence from Parliament.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi's explanation: the Minister's programme had been drawn up earlier. Had the House met as per its original schedule on April 18, the procedure for the passage of the Finance Bill would have been spread over a fortnight. But then in view of the UP Assembly polls, MPs decided to defer the session by eight days, so that the government now has to compress the schedule for passing the Finance Bill which marks the culmination of the procedure of passage of the Union Budget 2007-08.
The argument appeared to carry weight. The Speaker, who had on an earlier occasion, written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that ministers should not leave the country without his permission when Parliament is in session, appeared to have taken a soften stand on the issue on Wednesday.
But with each party coming out with the list of issues it wants to raise, the session is billed for fireworks. The government would face flak on price rise. The BJP would come under fire over the release of its communally sensitive CD in the UP polls and the involvement of its member Babubhai Katara in human trafficking. A Left-Trinamool clash is on the anvil on the Nandigram violence and the SEZ issue. The BJP would target the Congress on the Quattrocchi episode and along with the Left hit out at the UPA on FDI in retail. But to establish its separate identity, the BJP plans to raise the issue of ``cross'' motif on new Rs 2 coins, saying it resembles the Christian religious symbol while the Left would raise the issue of problems in agrarian economy. The discussion on the demands for grants for the labour and employment ministry on Thursday would also figure high on its agenda of issues.
But all these parties would come together when the House discusses the contentious issue of judicial overreach in general and with regard to the OBC quota issue in particular. As it is, the executive and legislature on the one hand and the judiciary on the other are not on the best of terms.