Interim budget passed after sharp exchanges

Amid sharp exchanges and some interruptions, the vote-on-account presented by AAP government was passed in the Assembly on Wednesday as the ruling party kept demanding more central funds for Delhi and blamed  Centre for forcing a cut in the outlay for 2015-16.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Delhi government was only getting Rs 325 crore from the BJP-led central government.

“As per the constitution the central government can only collect service and income tax from states but has no right to spend it,” Kejriwal said, demanding that the Delhi be given the rightful share in central pool of taxes like other states.

He proposed to take a delegation of MLAs to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on funds for Delhi, suggesting that BJP legislators were welcome to join it.

“All we get from the central government is Rs 325 crore. Even the Rs 600 crore needed by the three BJP-ruled civic agencies has not been released by the central government,” said Kejriwal,

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia highlighted the Aam Aadmi Party government's bid to adopt a “bottom up approach” in budget-making by involving the people.

He argued that giving free water and concessional power too was `development', and the term didn't just mean building roads and bridges. 

Earlier, the opposition BJP alleged the vote-on-account lacked “vision” for development in the city as the plan fund allocations were cut in the budget 2015-16.

There was posturing aplenty in the House, as the AAP and the BJP members blamed each other for financial problems faced by Delhi government and civic agencies. The proceedings were suspended for 15 minutes because of disruptions.

While the treasury benches blamed the BJP-led central government for the state goverbnment's financial problems, the opposition slammed the Arvind Kejriwal government for harassing the three BJP-run civic agencies by not releasing funds, resulting in non-payment of salaries.

BJP leader Vijender Gupta said the ruling party was spreading canards that the central government is giving only Rs 325 crore to Delhi government. “In reality, the total central funds reaching Delhi is Rs 1,720 crore,” he said.

AAP legislators are raising 14th Central Finance  Commission’s (CFC) report in the House when in the Constitutional scheme of things the commission’s report applied to sharing of taxes between the Centre and the states, and not a union territory like Delhi, he said.
“If you want to raise the irrelevant CFC recommendations then you should admit that you have no faith in the Constitution framed by B R Ambedkar,” he said.

BJP member O P Sharma said Kejriwal had cut the allocation for schools and Public Works Department. He also alleged there was no fund enhancement for de-addiction facilities.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia countered this, saying  that the government had raised the allocation for spreading public awareness on prohibition by 29 percent.

He said the cut in the plan outlay in budget estimates for 2015-16 was due to the fall in revenue collections in the current financial year when the city was under  President’s rule and governed by the BJP-led central government for most part of the year.  

Sisodia praises Budget official
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia highlighted the team spirit by praising in the Delhi Assembly a Budget department official who did not go home during the documentation despite losing his mother.

Sisodia showered lavish praise on Deputy Secretary (Budget) K M Sharma for showing dedication for the official work.

Sharma himself offered to continue working by saying that he realises the importance of secrecy in the Budget making exercise and the need to complete the documentation on time.

BJP leader takes‘letter’ jibe at AAP
BJP leader in the Assembly Vijender Gupta was pulling the leg of  the Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia when he said the vote-on-account would need presentation of full budget in June and this would result in reprinting of documents. 

“As it is printing of letters is in vogue in your party,” said Gupta, indirectly referring to the infighting in the AAP and the leaks and printing of letters written by AAP leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan to other party leaders.

Jarnail brings in 1984 riot probe
Rajouri Garden legislator Jarnail Singh showed quick thinking by informing the House about a news development on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Singh said that the CBI had filed a closure report against the Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in December 2014 but the Narendra Modi government did not make this fact public.
“On the one hand the Modi government is setting up a special investigation team to reopen the riots case and on the other the CBI is closing cases against accused,” he said in the House, urging Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to pursue the matter with the central government.

The legislator had in 2009 hurled a shoe at then Home Minister P Chidambaram over a remark related to the riots.

‘Parking mafia threat to officials’
Chairperson of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) Jalaj Shrivastava on Wednesday said attempts were being made to offer bribes and indirectly threaten officials by the parking mafia that is unhappy with the introduction of automated parking facility.

“Attempts have been made to approach and threaten officials,” Shrivastava said, while reiterating the civic agency’s resolve to automate parking lots despite resistance.
He also expressed New Delhi Municipal Council’s limitations in dealing with the growing number of monkeys in the area and rehabilitating drug addicts from Hanuman Mandir area.

“People threatened to file FIR against us when we tried to help shift drug addicts to welfare homes,” he added in his statement.

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