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Hope Parliament runs smoothly: PM

 NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (IANS): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday hoped that parliament's budget session beginning Thursday would run smoothly even as the BJP demanded an end to the row over Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's "saffron terror" remark.

"This session of parliament is going to transact important financial business before the house and it is our sincere hope that we will have a productive, constructive debate leading to agreed solutions to the many national problems that our country faces," Manmohan Singh told reporters after an all-party meeting.

"I have said this before and I'll repeat it again. Parliament is the forum for discussions or dialogue and all parties have an obligation to ensure that parliament runs smoothly. I am hopeful and confident that this session is going to be a fruitful session," he said.

The prime minister also said that the country faces many "economical challenges".

"It is my sincere hope that all political parties will join hands to find productive, constructive solutions to the formidable challenges facing our nation," he said.

The all-party meet, called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, was aimed at the smooth functioning of parliament.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that it would disrupt proceedings and take on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over bribery allegations on the $750-million (Rs.3,600-crore) VVIP chopper deal.

The BJP also wants Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to apologise for his remarks on "saffron terror."

"We told the speaker that we want the house to run and debate many important topics but the (Shinde) issue should be resolved first," leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj said.

"According to Shinde, if we are terrorists then I should not be the leader of the opposition and he should action against RSS," she said.

BJP president Rajnath Singh and colleagues Arun Jaitley, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar were detained along with a mass of supporters at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital when they sought to take out a march to protest Shinde's remarks linking the BJP and RSS with terrorism.

BJP leader L.K. Advani said "both sides would make efforts to ensure the house runs smoothly".

Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav echoed similar sentiments.

After a meeting of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Wednesday evening, Yadav said that Shinde and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj would decide how to resolve the row over the minister's controversial remarks.

He said that the NDA would raise the alleged corruption in the VVIP helicopter deal Feb 22 in both houses immediately after question hour.

Yadav, who is the NDA's convener, said they also wanted a clarification on Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju's remarks about some opposition chief ministers.

He said that other issues to be raised by NDA include price rise and damage to crops in states such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier, responding to the BJP's concern over Shinde's remarks, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government would find a solution to the issue.

He said the chopper deal was a "slur on India" and "the government was ready for any kind of probe" while urging parties to cooperate in running the house.

"The helicopter deal is not about corruption. It is a slur on India. As investigations have been done abroad, there must be a transparent and incisive inquiry into it," Nath told reporters.

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