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Opposition says govt trying to bulldoze Finance Bill without discussion

Archis Mohan/New Delhi 14 Mar 18 | 01:09 AM

Opposition members protest during the ongoing budget session of Parliament at the Lok Sabha in New Delhi | PTI Photo / TV GRAB

The Lok Sabha could not take up Finance Bill 2018-19, Appropriation Bills and demands for grants with protests forcing a washout of the proceedings for the seventh consecutive day.

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The government had listed the Finance Bill, Appropriation Bills and a vote on all the outstanding demands for grants in respect of the Budget 2018-19, called 'Guillotining' in parliamentary parlance, in the revised list of business of the Lok Sabha for Tuesday.

Cut motions on demands for grants of the ministries of railways, agriculture and farmers' welfare and social justice and empowerment were also listed in the business agenda of the Lok Sabha, which could not be taken up.

Several of the Opposition parties, including the Congress, met Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to protest what they called the government's "arrogance" in listing these Bills. They said this was the government's "unilateral move to bulldoze all the financial business without discussing them on the floor of the House."

In their letter to the Speaker, Opposition parties said they have demanded for the past week a discussion on the Punjab National Bank fraud, but the government has not "come forward to settle the issue for the smooth functioning of the House."

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) accused the government of engineering "scripted disruptions through its allies, both estranged and prospective."

Not just the Lok Sabha, but the Rajya Sabha also couldn't transact any business. In the Lok Sabha, Telugu Desam Party, YSR Congress Party, the AIADMK, Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Congress and Trinamool Congress members entered the well of the House to demand discussion on, or protest about, diverse issues.

In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the government has agreed for a discussion on the bank fraud case under rule 176, but the Trinamool Congress and other parties wanted the debate under a rule (rule 168/169) that entails voting. Naidu said "people are being impatient and (protests) show Parliament in poor light."

Naidu also disapproved of catcalls made by members of treasury benches when he called out the name of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram for laying of some papers.

In other developments, several of the Opposition leaders attended a dinner hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Former Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal, who had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday, apologised for his comments on SP Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan. However, union minister Harsimrat Kumar Badal, BJP MP Rupa Ganguly, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, and others, criticised Agarwal.

In Srinagar, Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah backed Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's decision to sack Haseeb Drabu from her council of ministers.

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