Project achievements, counter Oppn forcefully: Mehbooba

40-day long budget session begins today

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Jan 1: Expected to be “very stormy”, the 40-day long fourth budget session of Legislature of present Government will get underway tomorrow with Governor NN Vohra’s Address to Joint Session of Legislature at 11 am while major Opposition parties including National Conference and Congress held their Legislature Party meetings today and decided to corner the PDP-BJP coalition Government on a host of issues.
Ruling PDP Legislature Party met under the chairpersonship of Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti at her official residence over dinner tonight to finalize party strategy to counter the Opposition while joint meeting of PDP-BJP Alliance has been scheduled for January 3.
Sources told the Excelsior that almost all Ministers, MLAs and MLCs were present at the PDP Legislature party meeting at Mehbooba’s official residence in which she reportedly called upon the party Ministers and legislators to project achievements of the Government and put up “united face” in both Houses to counter the “Opposition propaganda”.
Sources said the PDP leadership was of the view that both major Opposition parties including National Conference and Congress would try to provoke the two coalition partners-the PDP and BJP-by trying to exploit “ideological differences” between the two parties but the treasury benches must exercise restraint, put up united front and counter the Opposition effectively.
Ruling PDP was of the view that there was “no major issue” before National Conference and Congress, or even the smaller groups, as situation by and large remained peaceful in the Kashmir valley this year, barring few incidents. However, the party leaders observed that the Opposition would try to make out issues “out of nothing” and the PDP legislators should be well prepared to counter the Opposition effectively in both the Houses.
Sources said the PDP and BJP Legislature Parties will meet jointly on January 3 at the residence of Mehbooba Mufti to devise “collective strategy” of the Alliance for the budget session.
The BJP Legislature Party has already held its meeting on December 30 under the chairmanship of BJP national general secretary (organizations) Ram Lal in which a host of issues were taken up which included the ruling party’s strategy in the Legislature.
The BJP has decided that some of its MLAs would continue to project the party’s “agenda” but in such a manner that it didn’t hurt the PDP and coalition functioned smoothly in the Legislative Assembly as well as Legislative Council.
Meanwhile, according to sources, the National Conference legislators met here today to discuss the issues to be taken up during tomorrow’s Governor Address and the budget session. The NC had held its Legislature Party meeting on December 20 under the chairmanship of NC Legislature Party leader Omar Abdullah.
“Today, the NC legislators decided that they would take up the issues like Kashmir situation, corruption, nepotism, favouritism, governance deficit, development inertia, backdoor appointments,, shortage of essential supplies, paralysis of administration, non-fulfillment of Agenda of Alliance, autonomy and regional autonomy, National Green Tribunal rulings, direct election of Sarpanch in the Panchayat polls and support to Article 370 and 35A in the two Houses,” sources said.
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) too met this evening under the chairmanship of CLP leader Nawang Rigzin Jora and devised the party strategy for the budget session including issues to be taken up in both the Houses.
Significantly, there was no joint meeting of NC and Congress Legislature Parties this time, which used to be held earlier. The development came after National Conference president and former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah’s open snub to the Congress recently saying that the NC would go it alone in the elections, thus dumping the Congress.
Sources, however, said that the two major Opposition parties, which together accounted for 27 MLAs, could support each other inside the Houses on issue to issue basis.
After Governor’s Address to joint session of the Legislature, both the Houses will meet separately for Obituary reference while Question Hour and debate on Motion of Thanks to Governor’s Address will start in the Assembly on January 3. The Assembly will be off for five days from January 4-8 and meet again on January 9 with debate on the Governor’s Address. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will reply to the debate on January 10 while Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu will present general budget for 2018-19 on January 11.
The Assembly will tomorrow pay tributes to Makhan Lal Fotedar, Sheikh Mohammad Maqbool, Sofi Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din, all former Ministers, Moulvi Abdul Rashid, ex-Deputy Speaker, Shabir Ahmad Salaria, ex-MP, Om Saraf, Surinder Kumar Abrol and Dr Naseer Ahmad Shah, all former MLCs.