Chidambaram's absence during Budget debate 'insult' to Parl: Oppn

Absence of Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the Rajya Sabha during discussion on the Union Budget today evoked sharp criticism from the Opposition which termed it as an "insult" to Parliament.

Opposition members were up on their feet soon after Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena rose to move three Appropriation Bills for consideration in the absence of Chidambaram, against whose name they were listed.

Members, especially from BJP, raised strong objection to it and questioned the Finance Minister's absence.

Venkaiah Naidu (BJP), who was to initiate the discussion on the Budget thereafter, questioned the Finance Minister's absence when it was to hold an important discussion on the Budget.

"This is really an insult to the House. The minister is expected to be present," and sought to know if he has taken the Chair's permission for his absence.

He also alleged that the government "wants to lower the dignity of the House" and strongly protested saying such action was against the Parliamentary decorum.

MS Natchiappan, who was in the Chair, said the Chairman has already granted approval to Chidambaram for his absence during the discussion on the Budget.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajiv Shukla said Chidambaram was to leave for Chennai for an important engagement and said even during NDA regime Finance Ministers have been absent during Budget discussion and their deputies substituted for them.

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