NEW DELHI, Jan 30: All the 146 opposition Members of Parliament suspended during the winter session for noisy protests against alleged lack of response from government on the unprecedented security breach, will return to the two Houses when the budget session, the last for the 17th Lok Sabha, begins on Wednesday.
The Privileges Committees of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have recommended revocation of their suspension paving way for their participation in the brief budget session before the general elections scheduled later in the year.
A total of 146 opposition MPs including 100 in the Lok Sabha and the rest in the Rajya Sabha, were suspended for bringing placards into the chambers, and frequently disrupting parliamentary proceedings. While the suspension of 132 members was only till the remainder of the session that ended on December 21, the cases of 14 members (11 in the Rajya Sabha and three in the Lok Sabha) were referred to their respective Privileges Committees.
At an all-party meeting on the eve of the budget session on Tuesday, the government urged the Opposition parties to cooperate and to ensure that no placards were on display.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Interim Budget on February 1. The Budget for Jammu and Kashmir, which is under President’s Rule since December 2018, will also be presented during the session. With the Janata Dal (United) returning to the NDA fold, and the differences evident between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Congress, the Opposition will be on a back foot. Several senior Congress leaders, including former party chief Rahul Gandhi, and general secretaries K.C. Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh, who are participating in the party’s Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra, are unlikely to be present. This will be the first Lok Sabha without a Deputy Speaker, a post mandated under Article 93 of the Constitution.
At the all party meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Opposition members raised a host of issues, and demanded a debate on unemployment, high inflation, agrarian crisis, and violence-hit Manipur. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi addressed reporters at the conclusion of the meeting. ”They [the Opposition] have given suggestions, but since this is the last session of the present Lok Sabha, we [the Union government] have said we will give them an opportunity in the next session,” he said.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the Finance Minister should include the pending dues to West Bengal on account of various Central schemes in the Interim Budget. “It is unfortunate that a Chief Minister has to sit on a dharna to demand timely allocation of Central dues to the State,” he said.
Samajwadi Party (SP) leader S.T. Hassan demanded steps to strengthen the Places of Worship Act, which freezes the status of religious places of worship as they existed on August 15, 1947 and prohibits their conversion while ensuring the maintenance of their religious character. Mr Hassan’s call came in the wake of demands to hand over the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi to the Hindu community.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar, the JD(U)‘s Ram Nath Thakur, and the Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) Jayadev Galla were among the leaders present at the meeting in the Parliament House complex.
The Congress’ deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Pramod Tiwari, who represented the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said he had raised the issue of the “violent attack” on the Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra led by Mr Gandhi in Assam, and the curbs placed by the State government on it.