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Speaker's refusal sparks Opposition walkout

Assembly passes Appropriation Bill for supplementary estimates

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Assembly on Thursday passed the Appropriation Bill for supplementary estimates 2005-06 amid an Opposition walkout to protest Speaker K. Kalimuthu's refusal of permission to raise a breach of privilege issue.

Soon after proceedings began, Communist Party of India (Marxist) floor leader J. Hemachandran and the DMK's K. Ponmudi reminded Mr. Kalimuthu that they had given notices on breach of privilege issues.

The Speaker told them that he had denied permission for the notices and no debate could be allowed.

When Mr. Ponmudi and his party colleague Parithi Illamvazhuthi, protested the ruling, the Speaker ordered the watch and ward to remove them. Mr. Hemachandran immediately led a walkout of the CPI (M) and the Communist Party of India members.

When Finance Minister C. Ponnaiyan began his reply to wrap up the discussion on supplementary estimates for 2005-06, other members of the Opposition, barring those belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party, walked out of the Assembly.

Mr. Ponnaiyan blamed the Centre for according a "raw deal" to Tamil Nadu in allocation of funds. Successive Finance Commissions had reduced the State's share and, as a result, it was denied Rs. 3,832 crore during 2000-2005. Because of the recommendations of the 12th Finance Commission, the State would lose Rs. 76 crore this year.

Mr. Ponnaiyan said though the State had contributed Rs. 27,000 crore to the Central kitty last year, it received just Rs. 5,000 crore.

"What the Union Government gives to the State is neither discretionary allocation nor charity dole," he observed. Tamil Nadu was kept out even as Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab and northeastern and hilly States were allotted non-plan revenue deficit grant of Rs. 56,856 crore for 2005-2010.

Similarly, Tamil Nadu was not given any funds under the sectoral allocation for health and education.

The Centre "unilaterally" revised Tamil Nadu's ceiling on borrowing money from the market from Rs. 9,704 crore to Rs. 8,290 crore.

Emphasising that the Government had funds for welfare schemes, Mr Ponnaiyan said of the total revenue, 80 per cent came from the State's own sources and the remaining through Central allocation.

He criticised the DMK, its president M. Karunanidhi in particular, for abandoning the late Chief Minister and party founder C.N. Annadurai's policy of fighting for more financial powers to States, despite being part of the Central Government.

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