Rajya Sabha takes up Finance Bill amid walkouts

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and several other parties Thursday walked out of the Rajya Sabha after the Finance Bill 2013 was introduced, slamming the government for inefficiency.

As part of an agreement reached between the government and the opposition, the Finance Bill and demands for grants for various ministries, along with the railway bill and appropriation bill, were taken up by the Rajya Sabha Thursday afternoon.

The opposition had agreed to maintain peace in the house, and walked out after the bills were introduced.

Speaking after the bills were introduced, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the opposition did not want to cooperate with the government, but it also did not want to stall the passage of the Finance Bill, and so chose to walk out.

Besides the BJP, the Left parties, the Janata Dal (United), the Biju Janata Dal, the DMK, the AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress chose to walk out of the house, not voting on the important Finance Bill.

“There is a constitutional need that all finance bills are discussed, but we regret the condition of morality, governance and the situation of the nation; hence we cannot cooperate with the government,” Jaitley said.

He slammed the government for its alleged weak foreign policy following the death of Sarabjit Singh Thursday in Pakistan after a murderous attack on him in a Lahore prison by inmates.

Jaitley also charged the government with corruption and attempts to cover up scams. He said it was an indication of the collapse of governance in the country.

“This is a day of deep grief and anger. The way Sarabjit has been killed, the Pakistan government found an alternative to execution of a death sentence,” Jaitley said.

He blamed the government for being weak in its foreign policy which gave Pakistan the courage to do this.

“Even a bird cannot go in the prison cell where those with death sentences are kept. It could not have happened without the involvement of administration, and government there. We need to introspect how weak our foreign policy is. China came 19 km inside our boundary,” he said.

“It seems the government does not understand the gravity of the issue. You can have security options, you can have diplomatic options, you do not have the option to be clueless,” he said.

The opposition leader also accused the government of indulging in scams and trying to cover them up.

“This must have happened for the first time that an investigation report is being shared by the suspects,” Jaitley said, referring to the Central Bureau of Investigation draft status report on coal scam being vetted by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and some officials in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The bills were later approved by the house and returned to the Lok Sabha as required by law. The lower house passed these bills Tuesday, without debate. These would now be sent to the president for his assent.

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