Hours after former Union minister and Lok Sabha MP from Indian Union Muslim League E Ahamed died in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, there was a long suspense on Wednesday morning over whether the government would stick to schedule and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Budget.
Ahamed, who collapsed during President Pranab Mukherjee’s address on Tuesday, was declared dead at 2.15 am Wednesday. RML Medical Superintendent Prof A K Gadpayle said, “The cause of death is complete heart block, cardiogenic shock and diabetes with hypertension.”
With Congress and the Left, among other opposition parties, demanding that the Budget presentation be postponed, confusion prevailed this morning almost until Jaitley tweeted, at 10.19 am, “Watch me live presenting the Union Budget 2017 at 11 am, February 1. Armed with favourable inputs from legal experts, and two past precedents, the Narendra Modi government is learnt to have made up its mind early morning to go ahead with the Budget.
Being Basant Panchami, the day was considered “very auspicious”. Jaitley referred to it in his Budget speech at least twice. In conclusion, he said, “…There is no other day which is more appropriate for this than today.”
Within the government, there was also apprehension that the Budget may get leaked if delayed, as it had been printed for distribution. The process was set in motion soon after Mukherjee finished his address on Tuesday — a senior NDA minister is learnt to have gone to the Lok Sabha Secretary-General’s office and asked what was then a hypothetical question: can the government continue presenting the Budget if a sitting Lok Sabha MP had died a day before?
The minister, sources said, was informed that there are no categorical rules that make it mandatory for the House to be adjourned for a day in case of a sitting MP’s death.
Parliament data also shows that on July 31, 1974, Speaker Gurdial Singh Dhillon did not adjourn the House after the death of minister M B Rana. He allowed then Finance Minister Y B Chavan to present the Budget.
On April 19, 1954, sitting MP J P Soren died on the day of Railway Budget but the House proceedings were held as scheduled. On both occasions, the House was adjourned as a mark of respect, and reconvened within hours for the Budget.
Late Tuesday evening, Ahamed’s children, who flew in from abroad, had complained that they were not allowed to meet their father, and also that authorities at Delhi’s RML Hospital did not keep them informed about his state of health.