VVIP chopper scam set to turn Budget session of Parliament into stormy affair


The controversial VVIP chopper scam is set to turn the three-month-long Budget session of Parliament beginning Thursday into a troubled affair for the government with the Opposition raring for an attack eyeing the Lok Sabha polls which are not far away.

The Left and the Right have been targeting the Congress-led coalition on a variety of issues, including the chopper deal allegedly involving Rs 362 crore kickbacks from an Italian company Finmeccanica and price rise.

Hopes of an early enactment of key legislations like strengthening of anti-rape laws, land acquisition bill and Lokpal Bill have receded with some Opposition parties objecting to the proposed measures in their present form.

The two-day strike called by the central trade unions has set the tone for the session with the unions upset over the government's "inaction" on the issue of price rise and alleged violation of labour laws.

There are issues galore including safety of women, killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on the Line of Control, increase in prices of diesel and petrol, hike in rail fare, the issue of separate Telangana and the alleged scam in the ambitious farm loan waiver scheme.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the government was ready to discuss all issues.

The session begins tomorrow with the address of President Pranab Mukherjee to the joint sitting of Parliament. The Railway Budget is scheduled to be presented on February 26, and the economic survey will be tabled the next day.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram will present the General Budget on February 28.

The BJP top brass has also decided to strongly protest against Leader of the House in Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde till he tenders an apology for his Hindu terror remark against the principal opposition.

However, the party will not force adjournments of the two Houses on this issue.

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