With elections in four states round the corner, major political parties on Thursday proposed varying schedules for the upcoming budget session of Parliament to get more time for campaigning.
In an informal meeting between the government and seven Opposition parties, the schedule demanded by the Congress and the Left was rejected by all the other parties. The cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs (CCPA) later decided that the session would run from February 23 to March 16 and its second phase — largely utilised for passing non-budget legislation — from April 25 to May 13.
“The rail budget will be presented on February 25, the pre-budget economic survey on February 26 and the general budget on February 29,” parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu announced.
But the schedule got finalised not before parties rejected each other’s proposals on the dates for the session’s second half in an informal interaction with the government preceding the CCPA meeting.
Amid these contradicting opinions, Naidu reminded the parties that in 2011, when the same set of states were slated to go for elections, the second leg of the session was cancelled.
Sources said the Centre would try to push the GST bill in the session though it had not been able to rope in the Congress, the largest Opposition party, to support the bill. The budget session assumes significance as the government’s luck in pushing key bills ran dry in the last two sessions. The Centre aims to get approval for the long-pending labour reforms and real estate bill apart from its other agenda.
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam are slated to go for polls in April-May, coinciding with the second part of the budget session. As the government proposed to reconvene the session on April 16, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury proposed April 11. Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien and the BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab demanded the second half start from April 25. The Samajwadi Party and the AIADMK supported the plan.