Pardeep Singh Bali
In what could be termed as twist in the tale, opposition National Conference (NC) and Congress today joined hands with ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to oppose budget proposals of PDP’s Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu.
The three parties spoke in coherence and it seemed that they had planned it together. It seemed as if the entire assembly baring the legislators of PDP had ganged up against PDP’s finance minister to put on hold the implementation of various proposals made in the budget for 2016-17 since these have not been approved by the Assembly yet.
As soon as the House assembled for the day, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the budget proposals have been implemented by the government even as the House was still conducting the general discussion on the budget. “We know you have the numbers and you will pass the budget anyway. But some good suggestions could have come from here (assembly),” he said.
Omar said the orders for implementation of the budget proposals were issued by the government the same day Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu presented it in the Assembly. “It is the contempt of this House. This House cannot be taken for granted,” the former Chief Minister said. Urging Speaker Kavinder Gupta to intervene in the matter, he said, the opposition leader said, “You do not have to protect the government all the time. You have to protect this House also.”
Soon, other legislators of National conference, congress and independent members supported Omar’s argument and demanded early withdrawal of the SROs. Congress members led by Nawang Rigzin Jora also questioned the rationale of issuing the orders for implementation of the proposals when discussions on the budget had not been completed and the House was yet to approve them. BJP leader Satpal Sharma also joined the opposition in opposing the move.
“I agree with my friends (pointing to opposition benches) that these orders should be withdrawn till budget is approved by the House,” he said. “While this is an established practice at the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir has a special status due to which even laws passed by Parliament are discussed and debated in the state Assembly,” Sharma said. The Speaker also directed the government to put on hold the orders for implementation of budget proposals till the same are passed by the House.
Responding to this, the Finance Minister said it was an established practice in the state and the Centre that notifications are issued after budget presentation. However, he added, “If there is any discomfort on this account, we will put these orders on hold.” The issue was raised by National Conference (NC) in the Legislative Council as well.
“The matter has been raised in the Lower House as well that the government has implemented the proposals made in the budget and has also issued orders in this regard. When it has happened, then there is no fun in having the discussions on the budget. What is the aim of these discussions in both the Houses then,” said NC member Ali Mohammad Dar.
“There is nothing wrong in issuing SROs on taxes which are proposed in the budget, as the state assembly has followed the line of center in implementing it,” said Drabu, who was immediately interrupted by independent MLA, Er Rasheed, saying “Whom you are referring to. Are we daily wagers here,” said Rasheed, demanding revocation of the SROs. In the course of ruckus, independent MLA and BJP rebel-Pawn Gupta accused the BJP legislator of running monopoly in the house.
“You have violated the rules and run the house as per your wishes, which is disrespect of the house and its members,” Gupta said. On sensing rise in uproar over the issue, Speaker of the house-Kavinder Gupta directed the government to stop the SROs implemented by the finance department.