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Budget session begins with President's address

Posted on Feb 21, 01:34PM | IBNS

New Delhi, Feb 21 : The three-month long budget session of Parliament began on Thursday with the President Pranab Mukherjee addressing jointly both the houses.

The sexual assaults and attack on women found mention in the inaugural speech of the President when he said "people are concerned about the security of women."

"The past year has been a difficult one," President Pranab Mukherjee said.

He also said that any communal violence should be strongly dealt with and victims rehabilitated. He also mentioned left wing extremism but said it is declining.

He said besides pro-active operation, the government is focusing on development too in the areas for a lasting solution.

The session began under the shadow of the defence chopper purchase scam and possible disruption of the House by Opposition over the issue.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ahead of the session appealed for a constructive and productive business in the house.

"We're looking forward to a productive, constructive session of parliament. That's what our country's people expect," the Prime Minister said and urged the Opposition for "responsible dialogue and debate."

The PM also emphasised on credible action to ensure "we are least affected by global slowdown." "We need to cope with formidable challenges that the country faces," he said.

The government, however, bought peace with the Opposition BJP after Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde officially regretted for his Hindu terror camp remarks.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Wednesday said the government is ready for any kind of probe into the AugustaWestland chopper deal that involves allegations of kickbacks worth 50 million euros in the scam.

"The helicopter deal is not about corruption. It is a slur on India," Nath told the reporters.

"The government is open to any kind of investigation, inquiry into this matter. We must have a complete transparent and a very incisive inquiry," Nath had commented ahead of the Budget Session of the Parliament.

India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier said it will raise the issue of chopper scam in the Parliament.

"Before every session of Parliament a scam gets highlighted. Earlier it was the Coal allocation scam and now the helicopter scam...the BJP will raise the issue," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday.

Some crucial issues including the helicopter scam, inflation, farmers' plight due to drought in Maharashtra and hailstorm in Madhya Pradesh and ordinance on stronger anti-rape laws are expected to be raised in the Session.

However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said he is hopeful that the session will be a fruitful one.

"This session of Parliament is going to transact the important financial business before the house, and it is our sincere hope that we will have a productive, constructive debate, leading to agreed solutions to the many national problems that our country faces," Singh said on Wednesday.

The Railway Budget is scheduled to be presented on Feb 26, the Economic Survey Feb 27 and the General Budget on Feb 28.