Finance Bill to be taken up in Parliament today

All financial business pending in Parliament — the Finance Bill, the Railway budget and other related legislation — will be taken up tomorrow. But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not take part in the proceedings.

This decision, of taking up the legislation, was taken after a group of Congress leaders met Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on the logjam caused by the Opposition’s stalling tactics over the 2G telecom spectrum scam report, the Coal block allocation scam and the incursions by China in Ladakh. “All financial business will be taken up tomorrow,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told reporters after the meeting with the Speaker.

He dismissed suggestions that Parliament would be adjourned indefinitely after the passage of financial business. “There is no talk of adjourning Parliament sine die (before May 10),” he said. Apart from the Finance Bill, other pending financial business includes the Railway Budget and demand for grants of ministries. The BJP though, will not be a part of the proceedings. Top BJP leaders told that the party would walk out when voting takes place on financial matters, as a mark of symbolic protest.

The party’s decision follows a meeting as Nath had with Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, after she returned from the election campaign in Karnataka. Nath was asked to talk to her by veteran BJP leader L K Advani to discuss the possibility of smooth passage of the Finance Bill.

Senior BJP leaders indicated that they would walk out from Parliament when the Finance Bill was tabled on April 30, the last day of the month. BJP leaders do not want to be seen supporting the United Progressive Alliance government in any way.

As the budget has already been passed before the vacation, opposition leaders also understand that it would be pointless stalling the Finance Bill, the document that represents the fine print to actually implement the budget proposals.

But they are clear that they do not want to be associated with the financial proposals of the government.