New Delhi:The crucial and first Budget session of Parliament after the Covid-19 pandemic will begin on Friday with the address of President Ramnath Kovind to the joint sitting of the two Houses. For the first time, the session will go fully digital with zero use of paper.
By all accounts and indications in the political circles, the session is likely to be stormy amidst allegations and counter-allegations on the handling of the farmers' agitation to repeal the three contentious farm laws which were passed in the last session. Major opposition parties, including the Congress, have already announced the boycott of President Kovind's address.
According to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the budget session will run from January 29 to April 8 in which the proceedings will run for 33 days and there will be a break from February 15 to March 7. The proceedings of the Lok Sabha will be held for a while on Thursday, half an hour after the President's address in which the Economic Survey will be presented in the House.
Despite the commencement of vaccination, the Parliament will not be free from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the budget session, the Lok Sabha will have sittings from 4 pm to 9 pm, while the Rajya Sabha will have its sitting from 11 am to 2 pm.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the general budget of 2021-22 at 11 am on February 1. The next day, from February 2 to April 8, the proceedings of both the houses will run in their respective shifts. During the budget session of Parliament, Question Hour has made a come back and Zero Hour will also be slotted. Members will be provided with a digital copy of the budget summary and economic survey. The meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha will be held on January 30.
According to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the budget session, similar to the last previous session, comprehensive arrangements have been made for the protection of health as per the guidelines. There is a seating arrangement in the Central hall with both houses for the members.
The budget session will also witness a change in the highly popular canteen of Parliament House with hands changing from Northern Railway to the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and the subsidy being scrapped.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has expressed the hope that this time the house will run smoothly with the cooperation of all parties and there will be positive discussion on important issues as expected by the public.
As many as 16 opposition parties, including the Congress, have announced a boycott of the President's address to the budget session of Parliament. Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here on Thursday that political parties have issued a statement to boycott the President's address. The main reason for this is the forceful passing of three laws related to agriculture in the absence of opposition in the last session.
The joint statement of the opposition parties said that the Central government has arbitrarily enforced the three agricultural laws, causing a livelihood crisis on 60 percent of the country's population. Millions of farmers and agricultural laborers are directly affected by this. Farmers have been demonstrating on the borders of Delhi for the last 64 days and more than 155 farmers have lost their lives. Apart from Mr. Azad, Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Anand Sharma, Deputy Leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha, Sharad Pawar of Nationalist Congress Party, Farooq Abdullah of National Conference, TR Baalu ??of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Trinamool Congress Derek O'Brien, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut, Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal's Manoj Kumar Jha, Marxist Communist Party's Elavaram Karim, Communist Party of India's Binay Viswam, IUML's P.K. Kunjhalikutty, RSP K.N. K. Premchandran, PDP's Nazir Ahmed Laway, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's Vaiko, Kerala Congress's Thomas Chajikadan and All India United Democratic Front's Badruddin Ajmal have also signed the statement.
The Government has convened an all party meeting on Saturday to seek support of political parties to ensure smooth conduct of business in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. On Sunday, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has called for a meeting of leaders of all parties in the Upper House.(UNI)