Budget session to resume today, opposition to corner government on bank frauds issue

As both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha meet after month-long recess, the multi-crore PNB bank fraud and other financial scams are likely to dominate the proceedings in both the Houses.

Budget session to resume today, opposition to corner government on bank frauds issue

NEW DELHI: The second part of Parliament's budget session is set to begin on Monday on a stormy note with the opposition ready to corner the government on the issue of bank frauds.

As both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha meet after month-long recess, the multi-crore PNB bank fraud and other financial scams are likely to dominate the proceedings in both the Houses.

The opposition and the government are likely to lock horns over the issue.

Opposition parties would demand answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on how the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and other banking scams took place under his watch and how the government failed to stop them.

Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma has given a notice for a discussion tomorrow under rule 267 of the House on the bank fraud issue.

The government, on its part, is seeking to counter the opposition offensive by bringing the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill.

The legislation, once passed, will grant powers to the government to attach assets of persons declared fugitive. This will include benami assets too.

The bill to target economic offenders was approved by the government following the fleeing of diamond merchant Nirav Modi and other accused in the over Rs 12,600-crore Punjab National Bank scam.

The BJP has claimed that the PNB scam had started during the UPA rule and its government has acted swiftly after the fraud came out in the open.

The passage of the triple talaq bill will also be high on the government's agenda.

While the opposition has not planned any joint strategy so far, it is likely to meet in a day or two to chalk out a plan for the Parliament session.

Other issues that the opposition is likely to raise include those relating to crimes against Dalits and women. The issues of farmers distress, slowdown of the economy and rising unemployment were also expected to be raised by opposition benches.

The Congress will also raise the issue of "vendetta", alleging that the BJP-led government was targeting its political opponents. This comes in the wake of the arrest of Karti Chidambaram, the son of former finance minister P Chidambaram.

The second part of the session would primarily see the passage of the Union budget for 2018-19 and discussions on the demand for grants for various ministries.

The BJP, which is energised after its emphatic victory in Tripura and impressive performance in Nagaland and Meghalaya polls, is likely to adopt an aggressive posture in Parliament.

The ruling party will rake up scams taking place during the Congress times and pin it down, the party sources said.

The passage of the OBC bill, that seeks to provide constitutional status for the OBC commission, is another issue high on the government agenda.

The government has also listed some other bills for consideration and passage in both Houses.

In the Lok Sabha, it intends to bring 'The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017', ' The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017' tomorrow, and 'The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2017', on Tuesday.

In the Rajya Sabha, the government has listed 'The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017', and 'The State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill, 2017', for the first day of the session.

Congress leaders said the aim is to corner the government unitedly and demand answers from it on various issues which it has evaded in the past, a party leader said.

"We will demand answers from the government on the bank fraud scam. We will also demand answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the scam happened right under his watch," Sharma told PTI.

He said the party is also set to raise the issue of "selective vendetta" at the hands of investigative agencies by the BJP-led government to target key political opponents.

CPI leader D Raja said the issue of PNB fraud will be taken up and the new bills that the government proposes to bring would also be discussed.

"We will demand answers from the government on how the fraud happened. The banking sector is in a deep crisis and its credibility is under stake," he told PTI.

TMC leader Derek O'Brien said his party is for a debate and a discussion in Parliament, and would evolve a joint opposition strategy soon.

"We will coordinate with other opposition parties to expose this BJP government that has not delivered on their promises. I don't want to name any particular issue as there are many. We have issues for everyday in Parliament," he said.

O'Brien also claimed that the BJP had gone "overboard" with its victory in Tripura.

"If their target is West Bengal our target is Red Fort. BJP did not win Tripura, the Left surrendered it," he said, claiming that Prime Minister Modi will not deliver his address from the Red Fort in 2019. 

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