Govt to rush through first budget session in Assembly

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Mar 6: Stormy first Assembly session awaits first ever PDP-BJP coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir with National Conference and Congress, the two main opposition parties which ruled the  State for last six years, apart from Independents MLAs gearing up to corner the Government on host of issues including contradictions between the two parties.
On the other, the PDP and BJP have also geared up to counter the opposition onslaught but some of the MLAs of the newly formed Alliance might not lag behind in embarrassing the Government while raising the issues of the people.
Official sources told the Excelsior that it could turn out to be shortest budget session of the Legislature though the provisional calendar was yet to be issued by the Assembly Secretariat. As the Government proposed to present budget on March 22 it would be left with hardly a week to get it passed before March 31 in view of couple of holidays in between. The Government proposed to end the session by April 4 or 6. The session would start on March 18 with the Governor’s Address to joint session of the Legislature.
In 2009, NC-Congress had formed coalition Government on January 5 but the then Finance Minister had taken Vote-on-Account. In New Delhi, AAP Government had taken charge on February 14 and it was also taking Vote-on-Account. However, the PDP-BJP Government was formed on March 1 but it has decided to present full budget within about 20 days of formation of the Government.
“It would be a ‘rush through session’, which was evident from the fact that the Government proposed to present the budget on Sunday with just two days kept for debate and reply of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Governor’s Address. After the budget, there would be hardly five days left for debate on grants of all Ministries as budget will also be debated for two days followed by Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu’s reply. There are 17 Cabinet Ministers including the Chief Ministers and two Ministers of State with Independent Charges, whose Demands for Grants will be debated in the Assembly in just five to six days,’’ sources said.
However, they cited the precedence of last year when NC-Congress coalition Government had also passed the budget within five to six days as they too had decided to present full budget in February in view of imposition of Model Code of Conduct on March 5 for Lok Sabha elections. That session had lasted 22 days.
Sources said in the absence of the Speaker, whose election is scheduled to be held on April 18, the day the session would start, Pro-tem Speaker Mohammad Shafi Uri, who will be administered the oath on March 13, can issue provisional calendar for budget session, which will be later ratified by the newly elected Speaker Kavinder Gupta and the Business Advisory Committee.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rigzin Jora said the Congress would question silence of the BJP on Mufti Sayeed’s most controversial statements on the elections.
“It were the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who gave 28 seats to the PDP but he is giving credit to someone else. The BJP has only surrendered the post of the Chief Minister despite having 28 MLAs but took just five Cabinet berths as against 11 of the PDP. The BJP is playing the role of second fiddle and behaving like junior partners of the Government. The BJP has sold interests of Jammu. The Congress despite having only 17 MLAs in previous Government had taken equal share of Cabinet berths, Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council seats but the BJP has let down the people of Jammu,’’ Jora, a third time MLA from Leh and former Cabinet Minister, said.
Prominent NC leader Devender Rana, a third time legislator, said the NC will expose the PDP-BJP’s “agenda of convenience and not conviction” and shred the CMP word by word and sentence by sentence in the Legislative Assembly.
“Both the parties (PDP and BJP) have come together to hoodwink people of both Jammu and Kashmir. Instead of meeting aspirations of the people of the State, they have let down the people,’’ Rana said, adding the two parties have contradicted their ideology and taken complete U-turn on their ideology,’’ Rana said, adding the NC would vociferously expose the two parties in the House.
However, Rana said the issues to be taken up in the Legislature would be formally decided in Core Group and Legislature Party of NC, which will meet under the chairmanship of party’s working president Omar Abdullah before start of the session.
BJP MLA from Jammu West Sat Sharma CA said the party would effectively counter the NC-Congress propaganda in the Assembly apart from taking up the developmental issues segment wise including construction of Fly Overs, roads, links roads to bridges, equal distribution of funds and general problems faced by the people.
Another BJP MLA Ravinder Raina said he would bring Uttarakhand like Lokayukta bill in Jammu and Kashmir for constitution of powerful anti-corruption body. He said he will also bring private member’s bills for incorporation of 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution of India in Jammu and Kashmir and a resolution for giving 24 seats reserved for PoK to the PoK refugees living in the State.
CPM’s fourth consecutive time MLA Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami questioned the Government wisdom in going for full budget session in such a short span of time.
“What is the necessity to rush through the budget without giving ample time to the MLAs to debate Governor’s Address, budget and Department wise grants?’’, he asked.
Another Independent MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid said he would take PDP and BJP to task for entering into an unholy alliance.
“As both PDP and Congress have made commitments to me to return mortal remains of Afzal Guru, I would like them to take up the issue in the Assembly and stick to their assurance,’’ Rashid said, adding he would call for political solution to Kashmir problem.

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