Truce brokered, BJP will allow Finance Bill to pass today


Even as Parliament remained deadlocked for the sixth day Monday, the government and opposition reached a temporary truce to allow passage of the Finance Bill, Appropriations Bill, Railway Budget and Demands for Grants in the Lok Sabha tomorrow.

This crucial financial business is set to be cleared after 12 noon, preceded by a walkout by the BJP. Sources said the deal includes an assurance by the government that it will not try to clear any other legislative business.

The government had earlier planned passage of the Finance Bill for May 6. However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had to reach out to Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj last night after a sudden realisation by the government that the new taxation provisions have to be notified within 75 days of the presentation of the budget.

Swaraj offered her help to overcome any possible constitutional crisis, but pointed out that since the matter concerned all parties, it would be better if Speaker Meira Kumar convened an all-party meeting. Accordingly, the Speaker Monday held an all-party meeting immediately after the House was adjourned following disruption of Question Hour.

The Speaker informed the floor leaders that unless the Finance Bill was passed by May 14, the Customs and Excise department would cease to collect taxes. If the Finance Bill is passed by the Lok Sabha on April 30 and goes to the Rajya Sabha on May 1, the upper house can either return it after debate or it is deemed to have been returned in 14 days, i.e. May 14.

This means the the government has to get the Finance Bill passed by the Lok Sabha tomorrow. The current session is scheduled to end on May 10.

Sources said the BJP came on board after Nath told them that a blockade of the Finance Bill meant early elections.

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