Oppn boycotts Governor's address to joint legislative session

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Jammu, Jan 7 (UNI) The Budget Session of Jammu and Kashmir Legislature today began on a disconcerted note as the Opposition boycotted the customary joint address of the Governor.

As Governor Lt Gen S K Sinha (Retd) entered the Hall, the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) legislators stood up and started raising issues to show their dissatisfaction over the working of the government.

The Governor, however, started his speech despite the din in the Hall. The JKNPP legislators, including its chairman Prof Bhim Singh and former Education Minister Harsh Dev Singh, boycotted his address, raising anti-government slogans.

National Conference (NC) legislators -- the largest opposition party in the state legislature -- did not attend the Governor's address.

Prof Bhim Singh accused the government of encouraging corruption in the state, and said convening Budget Session in advance again a mockery after last year's bad experience of the people of the state.

Both the discontented Opposition parties -- NC and JKNPP -- have chalked out strategies to ''expose'' the Congress- People's Democratic Party (PDP) coalition on various issues.

While the NC has decided to raise public issues, pertaining to development, corruption, unemployment, education and price rise, the JKNPP said it would also''expose'' the government on various issues.

Although there is a confusion on the post-Cabinet expansion relation between the PDP and the Congress, the sources said: ''They will keep the differences away to face jointly the opposition in the Houses (Assembly and Council).'' At a meeting of the legislators of coalition government last evening, Mr Azad strongly advised them to counter the Opposition in the Budget Session ''with facts and figures''.

''The legislators should be fully acquainted with the measures taken by the government from time to time to change the economic profile of the state and utilise the opportunity of the month-long (Budget) session to highlight the achievements,'' he said.

Meanwhile, PDP MLAs have also geared up themselves, especially to counter it's arch rival NC in the Budget Session, the last before the state goes for Assembly elections later this year.

UNI VJ KD BST1324

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