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Amid Opposition Protests, Union Budget 2017 Presented

New Delhi: Overruling demands from the Opposition to postpone the presentation of the Union Budget following the death of IUML leader E Ahamed, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today allowed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to carry out the exercise saying it was a “constitutional obligation”.

Initially, there were doubts on whether Budget presentation could be postponed since the practice is to adjourn the House for the day as a mark of respect in case of death of a sitting member. E Ahamed, who represented Malappuram constituency in Kerala, passed away in the wee hours on Wednesday.

Even as Opposition parties led by Congress and the Left, protested and demanded that the presentation be postponed, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the first General Budget, that also subsumed the Railway Budget.

“Today’s sitting has been fixed by the President for presenting the Union Budget 2017-18… It is a constitutional obligation,” Mahajan said while mentioning that the House is generally adjourned as a mark of respect in case of death of a sitting member.

Due to this “exceptional situation”, the House will go ahead with Budget presentation as listed on the agenda but will not sit tomorrow as a mark of respect for the departed, Mahajan said before asking Jaitley to present the Budget.

Opposing the Speaker’s decision to allow Budget presentation, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said it should be postponed as a mark of respect for Ahamed, who was a very senior leader. “Ahamed was on duty when he died…”, Kharge said.

Peeved over the decision, Left parties, including most of the members from Kerala, walked out of the House. However, they returned to the House some time later.

Amid the Opposition protests, Mahajan told the members to “please cooperate”.

As soon as Jaitley started speaking at around 11.10 am, some Opposition members who were protesting calmed down. Kharge was heard saying that the sky is not going to fall if the presentation is postponed.

Prior to Budget presentation, the House stood in silence as a mark of respect for Ahamed — a sitting member and former Union Minister — who died after suffering cardiac arrest yesterday during the President’s address to the joint sitting of the Parliament.