Wednesday, March 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Parliament passes vote-on-account
Standoff on ‘defencegate’ continues
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
A determined Opposition continued to stonewall proceedings in both Houses of Parliament for the fifth day today but allowed 20 minutes of respite in the Lok Sabha to allow the passage of vote-on-account for both General and Railways.

The passage of the vote-on-account, that would enable the government to draw from the Consolidated Fund to pay salaries and meet other expenditure from the beginning of the next financial year (April 1, 2001), prevented a constitutional crisis.

The general vote-on-account amounted to Rs 1,19,411 crore and for the Railways Rs 11,802.72 crore.

The Appropriation (vote-on-account) Bill for the General Budget was moved by the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, while that of the Railways was moved by Minister of State for Railways, Mr Digvijay Singh. Appropriation Bills for General and Railways for the current financial year were also passed in the House.

While the Treasury Benches voted for these Bills, the Opposition which was on its feet, continued to raise slogans.

The Lok Sabha was thereafter adjourned for the day. It was adjourned for question hour too when the Opposition continued to raise slogans demanding the Vajpayee government’s resignation over the revelations by

It became possible for the vote-on-account to be passed after the Congress and other Opposition parties conveyed to the Speaker, Mr G.M.C.Balayogi that they would cooperate in averting the constitutional crisis.

Mr Balayogi had called a meeting with the Opposition leaders, which was attended by Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mr Somnath Chatterjee.

The Speaker told them that without the passage of the vote-on-account, the Government would not be able to meet its expenditure for the first quarter of the next financial year.

Barring this piece of essential business, it was like any other day in the two Houses of Parliament. As soon as the Lok Sabha met in the morning, slogan-shouting Opposition members stormed the well of the House. Repeated attempts by the Speaker proved futile forcing him to adjourn the House for an hour.

In the resumed session, Mr Balayogi observed that as per the constitutional requirement, the demands for grants on account of both General and Railway Budgets and the connected Appropriation Bills had to be passed by both Houses and assented to by the President by March 31.

The Speaker also read out a message from the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan which said he had received with great satisfaction the expression of thanks by the members for the Address he delivered to both Houses of Parliament on February 19. The message was read out in the Upper House too.

In the Rajya Sabha too, the combined Opposition refused to let the proceedings begin. As soon as the House assembled, the members of the Congress, the Left parties, Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the AIADMK began to raise slogans against the Vajpayee government.

Members of the National Democratic Alliance countered them by challenging them for a debate in the House. With no let up in the din, the Chairman, Mr Krishan Kant adjourned the House till 4 p.m.

On resumption the scene was no different and within minutes the Rajya Sabha too was adjourned for the day.

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