| Hemendra Pratap Sahi lies outside the Assembly to protest against the government’s failure to execute a reservoir project in Garhwa. Pix: Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, March 20: Tomorrow being a holiday for Sarhul, the Assembly will re-convene for a day on Thursday to pass the budget before the House gets adjourned for a week in view of the Palamau byelection, announced Speaker Alamgir Alam today.
Neither the Speaker nor the leader of the House, chief minister Madhu Koda, were ready to accept the Opposition’s demand for more time to discuss budget provisions. The decision taken “unanimously” by the business advisory committee of the House, they declared, was “final” and there was no need to change it.
A cocky Koda even claimed that there are “numerous instances” of the annual budget as well as supplementary budget being discussed and passed by the House on the same day.
Dissatisfied with the development, the Opposition resolved to boycott the rest of the budget session; which means that the budget will be passed by the House on March 22 in the absence of Opposition MLAs.
The budget, as per Constitutional provisions, has to be passed before the expiry of the financial year, on March 31. The Constitution lays down that if an annual budget cannot be presented, the government can seek approval of the House for a “partial budget” or vote-on-account to carry on the financial business for the next three or four months.
But the Speaker today not only announced that the House will remain adjourned between March 23 and 29, but he also declared March 30 and 31 to be holidays.
With the next day, April 1, being Sunday, the House will assemble again on April 2 and conclude on April 5.
An irate former chief minister, Arjun Munda, claimed that he had opposed the plan at the business advisory committee. But the Speaker and the chief minister stuck to their stand that the committee had “unanimously” decided on it.
Opposition MLAs wondered how the budget, comprising demands for as many as 52 departments can be discussed on the same day.
Munda told The Telegraph that the Koda-led government should have gone for a vote on account. It had set a bad precedent, said Munda, and had failed to discharge its responsibility to the House.
“Ministers are coming to the House without any preparation. They do not answer questions and cannot provide basic information related to their departments. So, what is the use of going to such a House' We do not expect anything here. We will be going to the people’s court,” he declared.
BJP legislator Upendra Nath Das said: “There is little or no point in adjourning the House because of the Palamau bypoll. All legislators are not going to campaign there. Those who want to go there may leave, but why should the entire House be adjourned.”
JD(U) member Radha Krishna Kishore claimed he had burnt midnight oil to prepare his speech, but rued that his efforts would go in vain. He could foresee, said Kishore, that the government would only discuss the demand of the cabinet coordination department in the House on Thursday and then put the budget to vote without further discussion.
NDA leaders resolved to meet late in the evening to work out their future action plan.