New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's "Hindu terror" remark. Top leaders including party chief Rajnath Singh led the protest from Parliament Street to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. They were also detained by the police for some time.
BJP leaders want an apology from the Home Minister and have threatened to derail the Budget Session of Parliament that begins Thursday. The controversial VVIP chopper scam is also set to turn the three-month-long Budget session of Parliament into a troubled affair for the government with the Opposition raring for an attack eyeing the Lok Sabha polls which are not far away.
The Left and the Right have been targeting the Congress-led coalition on a variety of issues, including the chopper deal allegedly involving Rs 362 crore kickbacks from an Italian company Finmeccanica and price rise. Hopes of an early enactment of key legislations like strengthening of anti-rape laws, land acquisition bill and Lokpal bill have receded with some Opposition parties objecting to the proposed measures in their present form.
The two-day strike called by the central trade unions has set the tone for the Session with the unions upset over the government's "inaction" on the issue of price rise and alleged violation of labour laws. There are issues galore including safety of women, killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on the Line of Control, increase in prices of diesel and petrol, hike in rail fare, the issue of separate Telangana and the alleged scam in the mbitious farm loan waiver scheme.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the government was ready to discuss all issues. The session begins tomorrow with the address of President Pranab Mukherjee to the joint sitting of Parliament.
The Railway Budget is scheduled to be presented on February 26, and the economic survey will be tabled the next day. Finance Minister P Chidambaram will present the General Budget on February 28.
Congress is also going to face problem over the demand for the removal of Rajya Sabha Deputy chairman PJ Kurien in the wake of fresh revelations in the Suryanelli gangrape case. Kurien has time and again claimed innocence and has rejected the demand for his resignation.
Government has already said it was not averse to a JPC on the chopper deal with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath saying, "We are open for a Joint Parliamentary Committee if this satisfies everybody." Nath insisted that the government was "neither afraid nor hesitant" on discussion on any issue during the three-month long Budget Session of Parliament beginning Thursday.
At a meeting of chief whips convened by Nath on Tuesday, political parties had conveyed that they intend to raise issues including the chopper deal, hanging of Afzal Guru, price rise, land acquisition, food security, during the session. Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has appealed to everyone to allow Parliament to function smoothly.
"I am not presuming anything," she had said when asked whether she was apprehending disruptions during the session. "I will appeal to parties to let the House run. I will appeal to members not to resort to lung power," she had said.
The session has a heavy legislative agenda, including getting Parliament nod to three ordinances, introduction of as many as 16 bills, consideration and passage of 35 bills.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)