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Congress plays down absence of Pranab's deputy during budget presentation

March 16, 2012 - New Delhi

Congress Party on Friday played down the absence of Minister of State for Finance, SS Palanimanickam, from the Lok Sabha during the presentation of the annual budget by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO, V. Narayanasamy, said Palanimanickam has been very prompt in attending the parliament, but is at the momemnt very busy in the election work for his party, the DMK.

"Palanimanickam is attending election work. Election is going to be on 18th (March 18). It's a by-election there; DMK candidate is the field. Therefore, nothing to read in between that because the honorable minister has been very prompt in attending parliament, attending to his servicial duties," said Narayanasamy.

"And therefore, since the by-election is there, he told the honourable Finance Minister that he will not be attend. There is nothing to read in between," he added.

According to certain media reports, Palanimanickam's absence in the Lok Sabha during the budget session comes amid the DMK's stated unhappiness with the government's stand over Sri Lanka's war crimes.

Narayanasamy further said the government has not taken any decision yet on the Sri Lankan issue, and added that a decision in this regard will be taken only after the UN resolution.

"No, that is not there. In fact, the honorable Foreign Affairs Minister gave a statement in the Parliament, saying that the Government of India will see what kind of resolution is coming in the UN, Human Rights Commission in Geneva, thereafter the Government of India will decide," said Narayanasamy, when asked about the DMK threatening to boycott Pranab Mukherjee's budget speech.

" Therefore, no decision has been taken by the Government of India on the Sri Lankan issue, but the resolution is coming then the Government of India will decide," he added.

This is the first time since he took over as Minister of State for Finance that Palanimanickam is missing when the annual budget is presented. He has held the position since 2004, when the UPA-I formed government at the Centre.


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