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Government hopes for 'substantial business' this session

Posted on Feb 20, 04:49PM | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 20 : The government hopes to do "substantial business" during parliament's budget session starting Thursday despite the opposition's threat to take up several contentious issues.

With 71 items, including 55 bills, and just 31 working days, the agenda for the session is heavy.

"I hope to do substantial business. We have a lot of business at hand and there is time constraint," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has vowed to target Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for his remarks linking the party and RSS with "saffron terror".

It has also decided to raise the $750 million AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal that is mired in corruption charges.

"Shinde is the leader of the Lok Sabha. Does he think we are terrorists?" BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad asked. "Our demand is very emphatic: he has to apologise."

The government has offered a parliamentary probe into the chopper deal.

"We are open to any probe, including a JPC, if it satisfies everyone," Kamal Nath said. "I urge all parties ... not to obstruct parliament but to ensure it works."

The BJP also wants the removal of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien, who is allegedly involved in rape case in Kerala.

Kamal Nath said: "Our effort will be to find convergence (on issues)."

Opposition leaders have told Kamal Nath they want a discussion on the chopper deal, the land acquisition bill, the food security bill, rising food prices and the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

The Communist Party of India has indicated it will bring the Foreign Exchange Management Act amendments, passed in the Lok Sabha in the last session, to the Rajya Sabha.

The amendments are needed to operationalise the decision to allow 51 percent foreign equity in multi-brand retail.

The FDI issue disrupted the winter session of parliament.

Kamal Nath said his priority would be passing three ordinances, including the one on anti-rape law.

Among the key legislative measures the government wants to pass are the companies bill, the judicial accountability bill, the Lokpal bill, the food security bill and the land acquisition bill.

The session will run till March 22 when it will go into recess to consider the demands for grants of various ministries.

The house will reconvene April 22 and will conclude May 10.