Lok Sabha passes Union Budget 2023-24 without discussion amidst Opposition protest

New Delhi: Amidst a logjam in both Houses of Parliament, the Lok Sabha on Thursday approved the Union Budget, envisaging a total expenditure of around '45 lakh crores for 2023–24, without any discussion as the Opposition continued to protest, demanding JPC on the Adani issue.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the Demands for Grants for 2023–24 and relevant appropriation bills for discussion and voting in the Lok Sabha at 6 pm, while the Opposition members continued to protest in the Well of the House.

The Finance Bill 2023, which contains tax proposals that Ms Sitharaman had moved while presenting the Union Budget on February 1, will now be taken up by the Lok Sabha on Friday.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla applied the guillotine and put the Demands for Grants of all ministries for voting, which was passed through a voice vote. With the passage of these bills, the government has the authority to withdraw the said amount from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet the expenses for 2023–24.

It is one of the rare occasions when the Union Budget is passed without any discussion. The entire exercise was over in 12 minutes, completing two-thirds of the parliamentary approval for the Budget for 2023–24.

The Business Advisory Committee had approved discussion of the demands for grants for the ministries of railway, rural development, health and family welfare, panchayati raj, tribal affairs and tourism and culture.

Mr Birla adjourned the Lok Sabha for the day after the passage of the Demands for Grants. Earlier in the day, the Lok Sabha could not function due to the impasse between the government and the Opposition parties over the demands for an apology from Rahul Gandhi and the Adani issue and was adjourned twice.

All the Budget-related bills will now be transmitted to the Rajya Sabha, which cannot make any changes but only return them to the Lok Sabha after discussion as they are classified as "Money Bills", requiring the approval of only the Lower House.

Later in the evening, after the House was adjourned for the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with senior ministers met the Lok Sabha Speaker. Defence minister Rajnath Singh, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi and law and justice minister Kiren Rijiju are reported to have accompanied Mr Modi during his meeting with the Lok Sabha Speaker.

The meeting comes at a time when the second leg of the Budget Session has not been able to do much legislative business and has seen repeated adjournments. There is speculation that the current Parliament session could even be curtailed after the completion of the Budget exercise if there is no breakthrough between the government and the Opposition parties.

The current Parliament session is scheduled to end on April 6. Both the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman have met with the leaders of the Opposition and the government to find a solution to the current impasse.

The Rajya Sabha was also adjourned for the day on Thursday as the impasse continued over Mr Gandhi, Adani issues. Several Opposition parties also staged a protest march inside the Parliament complex in support of their demand for a JPC investigation into the Adani Group issue, pledging to keep raising their voices in this regard.

Leaders of various Opposition parties gathered at Parliament House gate number 1, the main entry gate into the building and raised slogans against the government and called for a JPC probe.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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