Congress stages a walk out over a short budget session in Himachal

Shimla: Protesting over a shortened budget session, congress as the prinicipal opposition party in the HP Vidhan Sabha on Thursday staged a walkout demanding that instead of holding a quick fix session, the government should present a vote on account and conduct the budget session later as the time provided was too little to discuss important demands.

Immediately after the obituary references on the opening day of the budget session, congress legislative party leader Vidya Stokes got up saying that a brief 11-day session was insufficient to conduct the important session as it would not provide enough opportunity for the members to discuss the budget proposals.

She was joined by former chief minister, Virbhadra Singh and HPCC chief Kaul Singh Thakur in voicing the concern of their party members over the shortest ever budget session of Himachal assembly.

Despite assurances from by chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal that there could be late sittings of the house so that every member could participate in the discussion on budget proposals, the Congress members chose to leave the house. “Vote on account is being presented by the UPA government which has to go to polls, ours is a governemnt in continuity so there is no question of presenting vote on account,” said Dhumal dismissing Congress demand.

“I fail to understand why the government is in such a tearing hurry to pass the budget and in case the session was to be kept brief, it would have been appropriate to present vote on account and not a regular budget,” said Virbhadra Singh. He added that there was the convention of presenting vote on account till the regular budget was passed, which could have been followed by the BJP government.

The HPCC chief said the governemnt should have presented vote on account and later brought the regular budget. He said nobody could stop the government from laying foundation stones, holding inaugurations and making popular announcements for which budgetary provision can be made later.

“When even the Planning Commission has not so far fixed the plan size of the budget for Himachal for the year 2009-10, then why is the government showing so much haste,” he quipped. He said that the normal practice is to have a break of about 10 days when the respective committees scrutinize the budget proposals.

In reply to a query by Congress chief whether the Planning Commission had fixed the plan size for Himachal, Dhumal said talks had already been held with them in this regard. “We have not sought much of an increase as the Planning Commission too has asked us to keep the plan size around Rs 2,700 crores,” he disclosed.

Chief minister said that 35 sittings of the house would be completed by holding longer duration monsoon and winter sessions. “We will bring in only the very important Bills so that more time is devoted to discussing budget proposals,” he said trying to pacify the opposition members. Dhumal later read out the supplementary demands for the year 2008-09 after Congress MLA’s left the house.

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