Poll weary Cong puts up fight within House
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Weary after two drubbings - in Assembly and civic body elections - in a row, the Opposition Congress finally put up a fight within the House by cornering the ruling SAD-BJP combine during the budget session. The party strategy to play the role of constructive and not an obstructive Opposition paid off with its members pushing the ruling combine on the backfoot during Zero Hour on allegations of sand mafia, "police excesses" during corporation polls and power crisis in state.
The new Leader of Opposition, Sunil Jakhar, took charge by leading the onslaught after doing his homework and consulting leading economists during the weekend before the budget debate began this week. He forced the government to go defensive by terming the budget as illegal by highlighting breach of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, not revealing the taxes in the budget. Jakhar also asked Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa to explain how overshooting revenue and fiscal deficits would be reined in.
However, he ruffled many feathers within the Congress for not "embarrassing" the government by staging a walkout when they had cornered the ruling alliance "successfully" on breach of the FRBM Act. Some of his party colleagues feel he meandered through too many other issues giving the ruling alliance time to recover from the onslaught. During the Zero Hour, he was even mocked at by Revenue Minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia for not coming to the point.
"We were a responsible Opposition. We cornered the government on valid points. But Chief Minister Badal did not seem serious about grave issues confronting the state. We will now have to take to the streets," he said after the session.
With state party president Capt Amarinder Singh making only one appearance during the session, Jakhar had the unenviable job of taking along the old-timers - some such as Brahm Mohindra, Ashwani Sekhri who were in the race for his post and former leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal - besides many first-timers.
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