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Raj CM reads portions from last year’s budget speech, says sorry

After the House witnessed pandemonium and two adjournments, Speaker Dr C P Joshi tendered an ‘apology’ taking onus for the faux pas, and then chief minister said, “I feel sorry”.

Yash Goyal | Jaipur |


Probably for the first time in the history of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday read a few paragraphs of last year’s budget points in his opening speech while presenting the budget for fiscal year 2023-24 here.

However, after the House witnessed pandemonium and two adjournments, Speaker Dr C P Joshi tendered an ‘apology’ taking onus for the faux pas, and then chief minister had to say “I feel sorry” as the Opposition BJP pushed the government against the wall.

In the meantime, the Opposition BJP stalled the proceedings and raised anti-government slogans in the well.

As the ruckus continued for over an hour despite two adjournments for 30 and 15 minutes, respectively, and BJP MLAs sat on the floor of the House alleging that the budget was leaked, and the Congress government should cancel today’s budget speech and fix another date for budget presentation in consultation with the Governor and the Business Advisory Committee.

As the session began with the presentation of the annual budget at 11 am, Gehot kept reading some paragraphs of last year’s budget concerning announcements in the Indira Gandhi Rozgar Guarantee Scheme and raising working days in MGNREGA. OSD to the chief minister ran from the gallery passing through the Officers’ gallery and conveyed a message to the Chief Whip Dr Mahesh Joshi sitting on his seat behind the CM through a guard.

As the Chief Whip whispered into the ear of Gehlot to stop the speech, the entire Opposition smelled a rat and protested in the well. In the meantime, the chief minister took up the bunch of budget copies in his hand and went outside the House in his chamber.

When the CM stood up for the budget speech after the second adjournment, he said, “Unfortunately, two/three paragraphs from the old budget copy were annexed (attached/inserted) due to a sheer human error. I did realise it while reading the paragraphs and felt sorry then and there. Later when the Chief Whip informed me, I stopped the speech. I feel sorry now too”.

‘If there is a difference in this copy of the budget speech, then tell it. Got an extra page by mistake. I misread a page. Where did the question of leaking come from?” Gehlot, who holds the Finance portfolio, assured the House.

Leader of Opposition Gulabchand Kataria said, “After reading wrongly for a few minutes, a third person came and told that he was reading wrongly. The budget has been leaked, the budget is confidential and how did its copy reach anyone other than the CM. A third person came and told the CM, how the third person knew about this budget. If you want to respect the House, then this budget should be presented separately on the second day. Democracy has been embarrassed by today’s incident.”