Opposition walk-out on budget may be a first

New Delhi, Feb 26 (Calcutta Tube) The opposition Friday walked out of the Lok Sabha during Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s budget presentation to protest some tax proposals – a development many veteran MPs believe may be a first in the history of India’s parliament.

Members of the BJP, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Left parties, the Samajwadi Party (SP), AIADMK and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) rose from their seats when Mukherjee spoke of the basic duty on crude oil being restored.

‘This (budget) is a constitutional requirement,’ an angry Mukherjee told the opposition MPs, many of whom were standing and drowning him out in their simulatenous protests.

But they walked out nonetheless and did not return to the house, leaving Mukherjee to finish the last 15 minutes of his speech in the absence of the opposition.

The only ones left were Independents Jaswant Singh, Digvijay Singh and Inder Singh Namdhari as well as the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the Trinamool Congress-backed Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI).

The walkout marred the presentation that lasted an hour and 45 minutes — less than Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s rail budget speech — and had begun in pindrop silence.

‘Yes, this is the first time in the history of parliament that the entire opposition staged a walkout when the budget was presented,’ Basudeb Acharia, the longest serving member of the Lok Sabha and a Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) leader, told IANS.

He, however, said a situation like one or two opposition constituents staging a walkout during budget presentation may have happened in the past. This is Acharia’s ninth term as the Lok Sabha member.

JD-U leader Sharad Yadav and Communist Party of India’s (CPI) Gurudas Das Gupta said they could not ‘recall’ any such incident having taken place during earlier budget presentations.

Lok Sabha secretariat officials said they were verifying the files to find out whether such incidents have happened in the past.

When asked about the walkout, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said: ‘It was not scripted from the floor. It was all spontaneous.’

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