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Government ready for discussions

Neena Vyas

Budget session from today

NEW DELHI: There was hectic political activity here on Sunday on the eve of the budget session, with parties voicing concern over a number of issues and the government saying it is willing to discuss everything, provided priority is given to financial matters relating to budget presentation.

At a meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, almost all non-government parties said they wanted to discuss price rise, including the recent increase in petrol and diesel prices, and the agrarian crisis that was causing suicides by farmers. The Sethusamudram project and the Telangana issue were also mentioned.

With the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani declaring that the agenda for the first week could be decided by the Business Advisory Committees (BAC), Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Priyaranjan Dasmunsi announced that the BAC meetings would be held immediately after the adjournment on Monday. He said that after the President’s address to the joint session, Parliament would be adjourned after making obituary references.

President’s Rule in Nagaland comes to an end on March 3 and elections are scheduled for March 5. With the results expected on March 8, there is a constitutional requirement to cover the few days before a new government is in place.

Mr. Dasmunsi said the government would like to take up the Nagaland proclamation on February 26, immediately after the Railway budget. The Minister said he recently called on Mr. Advani to apprise him of the important financial business on hand as well as the Nagaland issue.

A major issue that is bound to come up is the anti-north Indian agitation in Maharashtra by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. It is expected to be raised by the Samajwadi Party and members from Bihar cutting across party lines.

A Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader indicated that his party would raise the Telangana issue. The BJP indicated that it would join issue with the government on this to forcefully support the TRS.

A preview of the heat over the Sethusamudram project was available on Sunday when an MP of the breakaway faction of the MDMK said that 70 per cent of the work was over and now the project was being stalled by the party whose NDA government had cleared it.

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