NDA boycotts Finance Bill



New Delhi: BJP-led NDA on Tuesday boycotted the debate on Finance Bill in the Lok Sabha following differences with the government over the timing of taking up a discussion over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement on cash-for-votes scam.

The main Opposition staged a walkout as soon as the Bill was moved by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as it wanted the discussion on the Prime Minister's statement to be taken up before the legislative business.

But the government insisted on taking up the Finance Bill first, saying it had been scheduled earlier.

"We agreed to short duration debate after the Finance Bill is passed. We have no problem to discussion under Rule 192 (which does not entail voting). But please allow the Finance Bill to be passed first," Finance Minister and Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee said addressing the Opposition which was demanding the debate on the PM's statement first.

"The Finance Bill has its own sanctity," Mukherjee said, appealing for cooperation from the Opposition.

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the Opposition also wants passage of the Finance Bill but it should be taken up only after two-and-a-half hour debate on PM's statement.

"It is a question of two-and-a-half hours...You allow debate, then we can have both... It is just a matter of earlier and later," she said.

Swaraj said if the debate is allowed on the PM's statement, "We are ready to sit here till 12 pm (to pass the Finance Bill)."

Countering Swaraj, Mukherjee said a precedent like this should not be created.

"You have given the notice for a Short Duration discussion today. Allow 24 hours. The discussion can take place tomorrow... The Finance Bill has been decided long ago. We should stick to the schedule," he said.

P C Chacko, who was in the Chair, also ruled that the Finance Bill should be taken up first and Mukherjee started moving the Bill.

Unhappy over this, Swaraj led a walkout, asking the government to pass the Finance Bill without the main Opposition if it was so adamant.

PTI