Oppn gears up to corner UPA in Budget Session

New Delhi: Opposition parties are gearing up to corner the government during Parliament`s Budget Session on a host of issues, including NCTC, and target the UPA for alleged trampling of federalism and Centre-state ties.

An all-party meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today saw Opposition leaders raising a variety of issues including repeated "attacks" by the Centre on the federal structure of the Constitution, demand for white paper on black money and violation of the Model Code by several Union ministers.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj complained about the short duration of the first phase of the Budget Session at a time when the Opposition has plans to raise several issues.
The three-month long session will begin on March 12 and continue till May 22.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will present the General Budget on March 16 and Parliament will adjourn on March 30 to enable Standing Committees to examine the Demand for Grants of various ministries and prepare their reports. The second phase of the session begins on April 24.

Leaders of the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and AIADMK demanded a discussion in Parliament on Centre-state relations, citing the recent move to set up a National Counter Terrorism Centre which many chief ministers feel is a violation of the principles of federalism.

"The Central government is not respecting the sentiments of the states. It is interfering in the rights of the states and usurping their powers," AIADMK leader M Thambidurai told reporters.

Thambidurai said true federalism must be adopted in letter and spirit as is laid down in the Constitution. "This issue needs to be discussed in Parliament so that states` rights are protected," he said.

Swaraj said the BJP will also give a Calling Attention notice for discussion on Norwegian government separating two kids from an Indian couple.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the government was ready to discuss any issue the Opposition was keen on raising but sought to underline the financial business on agenda like the passage of the Union Budget.

"They did talk of federalism and there was an accusation that the government was impinging on the rights of the states. There is some sort of a contradiction here. The same person (who raised the issue of federalism) wanted the Centre to provide drinking water to everyone in his state," Bansal said. He said while water was a state subject the Centre was also making efforts towards this.

The Trinamool Congress and AIADMK leaders also sought increase in outlays for states from the Centre.

Swaraj and SP leader Shailedra Kumar said their parties want a discussion in Parliament on the issue of violation of the Model Code of Conduct by Union ministers and their defiance of the Election Commission during the recently concluded elections in five states.

The Leader of the Opposition said the demand for a `white paper` on black money assumed greater importance in the wake of CBI Director A P Singh`s statement. Singh had said that the black money in the country was pegged at Rs 5,000 crore.