Budget Session: RS chairman calls all-party meet today; Sonia Gandhi to deliberate with Congress leaders

Feb 20:Congress president Sonia Gandhi will hold talks with senior party leaders on Saturday to firm up the party strategy for the upcoming Budget Session at a time when Opposition and government have locked horns over a number of contentious issues.

The meeting will take place soon after Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari holds discussion with leaders of all parties of the Upper House this morning ahead of the Budget Session beginning February 23.

Congress has upped the ante against government on the JNU row in the wake of a sedition case against the JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, Dalit scholar of Hyderabad University Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the imposition and subsequent revocation of President’s Rule in the party-ruled Arunachal Pradesh.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Friday urged parties not to be “disruptive Opposition”, stressing that dissent, disruption and disturbance should not dominate debate, discussion and decision.

The Congress meeting also comes ahead of two separate all-party meetings called on Monday by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu during which the government is likely to make a fresh appeal to Opposition parties to help pass key reform bills like GST, which is stuck in Rajya Sabha.

The meeting called by Ansari is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On February 16, the Prime Minister had reached out to the opposition by holding a meeting of leaders of major political parties.

He had also expressed the hope that Parliament will function and assured opposition parties that the government will work to address their concerns during the Budget Session.

Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks majority, had seen repeated disruption in the Monsoon and Winter sessions with Congress and several other opposition parties blocking key economic reform measures of the Modi government.

Naidu had last month met Congress president Sonia Gandhi seeking cooperation for the early passage of the crucial GST and the real estate bills.
However, immediately after the meeting, Congress made it clear that there was no forward movement on the issue, claiming that the government did not make any substantial offer on its demand for certain changes in the bill.

The Budget Session of Parliament will commence on February 23 and will focus largely on the financial business of the government. The General Budget will be presented on February 29.

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