New Delhi: Emphasising that the Narendra Modi government wants a "smooth budget session" of parliament, Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said the government is "ready to discuss any issue" with the opposition to ensure "meaningful business in the house".
Parliament's budget session will begin on February 23 with President Pranab Mukherjee addressing a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Naqvi said that a number of important bills are to be "discussed and passed in the overall interest of the country" during the budget session.
"Over 30 bills are pending in the Rajya Sabha alone," he said, adding that the Lok Sabha also has lots of bills pending and it was "high time" these are discussed and passed.
"We are requesting the Congress and others with folded hands not to stop development and reforms in the country," he said, adding the government was "ready to discuss anything with the opposition".
The minister said parliament's smooth functioning is the responsibility of "all concerned", and in case the opposition has any problem with any of the proposed bills, the government will listen to it both inside and outside the house.
On the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, the minister said that it should be a reality soon as concerns of the opposition have been addressed and there should be no problems in getting it passed.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu "has been in constant touch with the Congress party and others and it seems they all understand the importance of smooth functioning of Parliament," Naqvi said.
Asked about the government meeting leaders of all poll-bound states before announcing the dates of the budget session, Naqvi said this was to ensure that there were no problems for poll-bound states in terms of the session's dates.
"It was for the first time in the history of (Indian) parliamentary democracy that before finalizing dates of a (parliament) session, the proposed schedule was discussed with all concerned," he said.
The budget session will be held in its traditional two parts, February 23 to March 16 and From April 25 to May, with a 39-day recess in between.
The minister, who also deals with minority affairs, said that there was no need for any of the minority communities to be afraid of anything.
"Minorities need not feel unsafe under any regime, be it of Congress, BJP or any other political party, as the constitution of the country provides equal rights and safety to everyone," he said.
On being reminded that news reports about Dalits and people from other weak sections of society being harassed keep appearing in national media quite often, Naqvi said it was "unfortunate".
"We believe that not even an isolated incident of such nature should happen. The government is committed to protect all rights of every individual of the society no matter where he or she lives or work," he said.