New Delhi: The Budget session of Parliament is likely to start on a tricky note for the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on Monday, with opposition parties as well as some of its partners set to mount a challenge on inflation, curbs on the fertilizer subsidy, internal security and proposed talks with Pakistan.
The main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Left parties and two UPA allies—the Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam—have demanded a debate on rising prices before the 26 February Budget presentation.
The BJP has threatened an adjournment motion if the UPA did not agree to discuss inflation on Tuesday. “We will take on the government on three important issues—price rise, India- Pakistan talks and (the 13 February) Pune blasts. Government will have to answer the nation’s concerns first to let Parliament function smoothly,” said S.S. Ahluwalia, the BJP’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha.
The party also wants a debate on the proposed India-Pakistan talks before 25 February, when the foreign secretaries of the two countries are scheduled to meet.
The session also has the presentation of the railway budget on its agenda, scheduled for 24 February. The government will table the Economic Survey and the 13th Finance Commission report, which has suggested a blueprint for fiscal consolidation and expenditure management, on 25 February.
But the focus on inflation and the absence of a new device to identify people below the poverty line may delay the National Food Security Bill, which was expected to be introduced in this session.
Congress leaders said the falling fortunes of the BJP and the Left, which have lost a string of elections in the recent past, may make them “aggressive” during the session.
Minister of parliamentary affairs V. Narayanaswamy said, “We are not running away from any discussions... We will debate every issue they want.”
Another minister said, on condition of anonymity, that the government may announce fresh measures to control rising prices. “We will be taking more steps, such as strengthening the monitoring system (and) strengthening the public distribution system. There will also be measures to ensure that farmers get good prices for their produce,” the minister said.
Santosh K. Joy contributed to this story.