NEW DELHI -- With the government facing a tough Budget session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reached out to the Opposition, saying Government will listen to their views and efforts will be made to discuss all issues of national importance.
Speaking to the media outside Parliament House before the three-month session began, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that it will proceed in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and there will be an opportunity to do some good for the people.
"In a democracy, discussion and debate should happen in this temple of democracy. Every subject should be discussed in detail. We hope that there will be a positive outcome of this debate that will help the poorest of the poor.
"Budget session is crucial for any government. It is also an important opportunity for the country. I believe that the budget session will proceed in a very good atmosphere, in an atmosphere of cooperation and will serve as an opportunity to do good together," Modi said.
The Prime Minister also referred to his meeting with leaders of Opposition parties at the all-party meeting called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu yesterday.
"I had met leaders of all parties for a long time even yesterday. Our effort will be that there should be a thorough discussion on all important issues of national interest," he said.
Noting that this is the first occasion for his government to present a full-term budget, he said the Budget session is beginning with a commitment that there should be dialogue in this "temple of democracy" and a thorough discussion on every issue so that it's outcome works to the advantage of the poorest of the poor.
He said that the Budget reflects the efforts of the government to fulfil the aspirations of the common man.
Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee sought the "cooperation" of all MPs in the smooth conduct of legislative business but gave no indication of plans to bring changes in the controversial land acquisition ordinance.
He, however, declared that government attaches paramount importance to safeguarding the interests of farmers and families affected by land acquisition.
Delivering his address to the joint sitting of Parliament, whose budget session commenced today, he said the government will constantly endeavour for smooth conduct of legislative business and enactment of progressive laws in the Parliament.
In the address, which is mandated before the start of the first session of the year in which the President reads out government's plans for the coming year, Mukherjee said Parliament is the sanctum sanctorum of Democracy and the people of have reposed unflinching faith in this institution for fulfilment of their hopes and expectations.
"My Government will constantly endeavour for smooth conduct of legislative business and enactment of progressive laws in the Parliament which reflects the will and aspirations of the people.
"I urge all Members of the Parliament to discharge their solemn responsibility in a spirit of cooperation and mutual accommodation.
"By channelising the patriotic energies of every citizen, we all collectively must work towards building a strong and modern India. Ek Bharat Shresht Bharat (One India, Best India). Jai Hind," he said winding up his speech that was heard with rapt attention with occasional thumping of desks.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu met Congress president Sonia Gandhi yesterday over its agenda that includes the contentious ordinance on land acquisition.
The government agenda for the session beginning Monday includes 44 items of financial, legislative and non-legislative business.
Naidu met Sonia Gandhi in the morning and later met leaders of opposition parties over lunch to seek their cooperation, but they all conveyed their concern on the land ordinance. Though the government has not spoken of making changes in it so far, there now appears to be a rethink on the issue.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who Saturday met some farmers' representatives on the issue, was told by them that the government had brought the measure without proper consultations, said sources. The representatives also asked him to ensure that their views are taken into account before bringing the bill replacing the ordinance in parliament.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is apparently concerned about activist Anna Hazare's protest against the ordinance and any perception of the party being viewed as anti-farmer. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is also expected to lead a protest on the issue.
Naidu told Sonia Gandhi that the land ordinance was brought after consultations with various states and stakeholders but she said that her party had its concerns.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present at the all-party meeting, said it was the collective responsibility of all parties to run the house.
After the meeting, Naidu told reporters that it was "very successful".
"The general view expressed was that parliament should function smoothly. Focus should be on financial matters since this is the budget session," he said.
Naidu said there was broad consensus on "four-five ordinances" of the six that need to be replaced by bills in the first half of the session ending March 20 but the opposition parties raised objections to the one on land acquisition and the government conveyed its willingness to address any issue.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party will support the government on bills and ordinances which benefit the common man but not those which are "anti-people".
The opposition parties are expected to raise a number of issues including attacks on churches, ceasefire violations by Pakistan and concerns of Tamil fishermen.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has also called a meeting of leaders of parties in the house to ensure its smooth functioning.
The session will begin with President Pranab Mukherjee's address to members of both houses of parliament.
The financial business (11 items) include presentation of and discussion on general and railway budget, voting on demands for grants, supplementary demands for grants for 2014-15 and excess demands, if any, for 2013-14.
The rail budget will be presented Feb 26, Economic Survey Feb 27 and general budget Feb 28.
While 10 new bills are slated to be introduced, the agenda includes passing of three bills pending in the Lok Sabha and seven in the Rajya Sabha. Those pending in the Lok Sabha include the Constitution (122nd Amendment) bill relating to introduction of GST, and the Lokpal and Lok Ayukta bill.
Bills pending in the Rajya Sabha include four bills already passed by the Lok Sabha including the Companies Bill, and amendments to the Public Premises Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants Act, and the Regional Rural Banks Act.
Other pending bills include a bill amending the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The new bills pertain to the National Cooperative Development Corporation, the Warehousing Corporation, Andhra Pradesh's reorganisation, arbitration and conciliation, repeal of appropriation acts, registration of births and deaths, whistle-blowers protection, Indian Institutes of Management, National Academic Depository and Identification of Scheduled Castes.
The second part of budget session will commence April 20 and conclude May 8.