Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: The Budget session is to be re-scheduled keeping in mind the dates of the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Priyaranjan Dasmunsi announced here on Thursday.

He said that he had been directed by the Government to reorganise the session and a consensus among party leaders had also emerged on this during a meeting of party leaders chaired by the Lok Sabha Speaker on Thursday afternoon. He would present the new schedule to the Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha on February 26 and this would be finalised through consensus.

While there would be no change in the already announced President's address to the joint session of Parliament (February 23), presentation of the Railway Budget (February 26), the Economic Survey (February 27) and the Union Budget presentation at 11 a.m. on February 28, changes would be necessary in the scheduled recess from March 22 to April 17, he suggested.

With the seven-phase poll in Uttar Pradesh being held from April 7 to May 8 party leaders across the board were in favour of a re-scheduling to enable MPs to participate in the election campaign that will start in earnest by mid-March and end only on May 6. This suggests that while the first part of the session would be curtailed by a week, the recess may be prolonged to early May.

Mr. Dasmunsi said he would keep in mind the constitutional necessity of having the Finance Bill 2007 passed by Parliament before May 14 and also try to ensure that at least 42 sittings, as earlier planned, take place over the pre-recess and post-recess periods of the session. This was also a demand by the Opposition and other parties.

Price rise

The Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party have already prioritised price rise as a major issue they want to raise during the Budget session. At a meeting here on Thursday evening the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance said it wanted to raise the price rise issue as early as February 27.

"We want a discussion on this before the presentation of the Budget," BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra said.

Other issues that the Left wants to discuss relate to unemployment, foreign direct investment in retail and special economic zones while for the BJP internal security, with special reference to the recent blasts on the Samjhauta Express and the violence witnessed against Hindi-speaking people in Assam, is a priority even as it does want to raise the economic issues listed by the Left.

The raids conducted by Government agencies on the offices of Margadarsi Financiers (owned by Eenadu editor Ramoji Rao) figured at the NDA meeting where the Congress was condemned for attacking the freedom of the press as during the 1975 Emergency.

The Speaker has told party leaders that a special function would be held on May 10 in the Central Hall of Parliament to commemorate 150 years of India's first war of Independence in 1857. At a meeting on Friday the Speaker would also like to take up the issue of ensuring that at least 100 sittings take place in a year as recommended during the golden jubilee year of Parliament.

Getting into place the important legislation related to the Budget, bills to replace four ordinances and some pending legislation, including the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill will be the Government's priorities, Mr. Dasmunsi said. He expressed the Government's readiness and willingness to discuss all issues that the Opposition and other parties may raise if the Chairs in the two Houses admit these.

A Bill to replace the ordinance on mandatory sharing of sports signals will also be a priority.