Frequent fireworks are expected in the Budget session of Parliament with the Opposition set to raise the pitch against the government’s demonetisation move and an early budget.
The battle lines were clear on Monday, 24 hours before the President’s speech to the joint sitting of both Houses to mark the beginning of the session. Two key parties — TMC and BJP’s ally Shiv Sena — didn’t attend the all-party meeting in the morning, signalling a hardening of stand against the government. The Sena, which is separately fighting the civic body polls in Mumbai, gave the consultative meeting a miss while the TMC is miffed over demonetisation.
The first part of the session, with just eight working days, will end on February 9.
Congress chief whip in Lok Sabha, Jyotiraditya Scindia, said that advancing the budget to February 1 was “undemocratic”, pointing out that the UPA government in 2012 had postponed the budget till elections.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury alleged that the government’s financial calculations will hide the impact of demonetisation . “They will only have data till the second quarter of the year, the figures of the third quarter will not be there. Demonetisation has had such adverse impact on the economy. Its effect will not be taken into account because the figures will not be available,” he said.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley defended Centre’s decision and pointed out that six months ago, the cabinet had decided to advance the budget process.
Sources said that the Opposition may bring privilege motion, citing RBI governor Urjit Patel’s submission to a House panel that the government asked the RBI to go ahead with demonetisation.
Prime Minister Modi, who attended the meeting briefly, urged the parties to participate in a debate. “The PM called Parliament a ‘Maha Panchayat’ and said that differences may arise between parties but democracy should win,” parliamentary affairs minister, Ananth Kumar, said.
The session assumes significance as it will take place parallel to the assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh where stakes are high for the BJP after it suffered a string of losses in assembly tests.