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Speaker pads up for bouncers

Ranchi, March 21: A beleaguered Speaker, at the receiving end of criticism for permitting the government to pass the annual budget in just two hours tomorrow, today declared that he would be holding a dialogue with Opposition leaders on Thursday morning to end the stalemate.

The Speaker, on the back foot, said he was not in favour of the guillotine. “But the view of the government does prevail. After all it is the government which decides when to summon the House,” he argued before saying that every branch of the government has limitations.

The Opposition has already declared its intention to boycott the session.

Leader of the Opposition Arjun Munda, said Assembly sources, had not really opposed the move to cut short the budget session. He had merely said that it would set a bad precedent and then went along with the view of the majority, these sources claimed.

The decision to boycott the session will also deprive the Opposition the opportunity to corner the government. Opposition MLAs had moved 50 cut motions soon after the budget was presented.

The only time the Jharkhand Assembly chose to guillotine the budget was in 2003, when the then chief minister, Babulal Marandi, was eased out amid political turmoil. The new government headed by Arjun Munda adopted the budget tabled by his predecessor and the House passed it without holding a debate.

This time there was no crisis and no emergency to warrant a repeat of 2003. But still, the Business Advisory Committee of the Assembly, the Speaker insists, recommended to cut short the session and do away with discussion on the budget.

BJP legislator Sarayu Roy accused Alam of behaving like the 13th minister of the Koda government. Alam had compromised with the office of the Speaker, he said, by adjourning the session. Roy said cut motions have to be submitted four days before voting. The Bihar budget manual also says that debate on the budget can take place five days after it is tabled in the House. By advancing the date of voting to March 22, the Speaker has defied both House rules and the Constitution, said the MLA.

Former Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari agreed.

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