PM hopes for smooth Budget session, oppn unlikely to oblige

The Budget session of Parliament is was set for a stormy start today with major opposition parties planning to corner the government on the Jat agitation for reservation and the Jawaharlal Nehru University row over 'nationalism'.

At the all-party meeting on Monday convened by parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, the Opposition dubbed the BJP-RSS stand on the JNU row as ''fascist nationalism'', drawing a parallel between the Nazi regime's false propaganda with the ''doctored evidence'' against students of the capital's premier university – and setting the tone for things to come in Parliament.

Addressing the joint session of Parliament this morning, President Pranab Mukherjee said poverty is the worst form of violence. ''The poorest of the poor are entitled to nation's resources. My government will make this goal possible through social security and financial inclusion,'' he said.

''My govt in particular is focussed on 'Garibon Ki Unnati', 'Kisano Ki Samridhi' and 'Yuvaon Ka Rozgar''.

In his customary address to the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament outlining government's agenda in the coming financial year, he also declared that the government will constantly strive for smooth and construction conduct of Parliamentary business.

"I urge all members of parliament to discharge their solemn responsibilities in a spirit of cooperation and mutual accommodation," President Mukherjee said.

Before the session started Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "The country is watching eagerly the proceedings that are to take place in Parliament. The world is also focused on India's economy. I believe that Parliament's time shall be utilised and constructive dialogue will take place."

The Opposition, PM Modi said, "has shown positive steps". In a series of meetings, the government and the opposition have discussed how to ensure that legislative work gets done in this crucial session, unlike several past sessions washed out by opposition protests.

At a meeting on Monday, the Congress-led opposition said it would aid a "disruption-free session" if the government agreed to discuss issues it wants to bring up first. Its formula - debates first, the government's agenda like the key Goods and Services Tax or GST bill later.

"Our priority is get the union budget, railway budget etc. passed," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, adding that the government too wants to discuss issues like the recent incidents at the premier Jawaharlal Nehru University or JNU.

After the meeting he called yesterday, Naidu clearly indicated that the government will counter the opposition's attack over JNU students being charged with sedition with the nationalism argument that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has used earlier.

This morning, the BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi has given notice for discussion on the JNU controversy as well as the Ishrat Jehan case.

The government wants to push through in this session the GST bill to effect a key tax reform. It has circulated a note where the GST bill has been listed, but there may not be enough time in the first half of the budget session for it.

Among other issues the Opposition wants to discuss in Parliament are the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad last month and the Pathankot terror attack.

The Union Budget is scheduled for next Monday, 29 February. The Railway Budget will be presented on Thursday 25 February and the Economic Survey on Friday 26 February. The Budget session will be on till 13 May, with a recess from 16 March to 25 April.