Budget session to begin today, likely to be stormy
16 Oppn parties to boycott president's address
New Delhi: The Budget session of Parliament beginning Friday is poised to be stormy with the Opposition set to attack the government over the three new farm legislations, amid an ongoing agitation by farmers.
The session will begin with the address of the President to the joint sitting of the two Houses on Friday morning followed by the presentation of the Union Budget on February 1.
A total of 16 Opposition parties have announced a boycott of the President’s address in solidarity with the farmers protesting the new farm laws, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Thursday.
The 16 Opposition parties have also demanded a probe into the violence on Republic Day in Delhi.
Opposition parties include the Congress, the NCP, Shiv Sena, DMK, Trinamool Congress, CPI, CPI-M and RJD.
Announcing the decision, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the 16 Opposition parties also demanded an independent probe into the Centre’s role in the violence that shook the national capital during the farmers’ tractor parade on Republic Day.
The Opposition parties also demanded the repeal of the three farm laws and criticised the central government for remaining unresponsive to the demands of lakhs of farmers protesting against the agri laws.
The parties that will boycott the president’s address on Friday are the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, National Conference, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI, Indian Union Muslim League, RSP, Peoples Democratic Party, MDMK, Kerala Congress (M) and the All India United Democratic Front.
“The prime minister and the BJP government remain arrogant, adamant and undemocratic in their response. Shocked by this insensitivity of the government, the Opposition political parties, reaffirming the collective demand for the repeal of the anti-farmer laws and in solidarity with the Indian farmers, have decided to boycott the president’s address to both the houses of Parliament on Friday, January 29, 2021,” said a joint statement issued by various parties.
Releasing the joint statement, senior Congress leader Azad, along, with deputy leader Anand Sharma and Congress’ chief whip in Lok Sabha K Suresh, said farmers have been collectively fighting against the three farm laws “arbitrarily imposed by the BJP government.
The parties also said the government remains unmoved and has responded with water canons, tear gas and lathi charges on the lakhs of farmers agitating against the laws. Every effort has been made to discredit a legitimate mass movement through the government-sponsored disinformation campaign, they said.
The parties also said that though the protests and the agitation have remained peaceful, but there were some acts of violence on January 26 in the national capital, which was condemned universally and unequivocally.
“We also express our sadness over the injuries sustained by Delhi Police personnel while handling the difficult situation. But, we believe that an impartial investigation will reveal the central government’s nefarious role in orchestrating those events,” the parties said in the joint statement.
They said the new farm laws threaten the future of Indian agriculture, which sustains over 60 per cent of the country’s population, and the livelihood of crores of farmers, sharecroppers and farm labour.
“The three farm laws are an assault on the rights of the states and violate the federal spirit of the Constitution. If not repealed, these Laws will effectively dismantle the edifice of national food security that rests upon – minimum support price (MSP), government procurement and public distribution system (PDS),” the statement said.
It also alleged that the farm bills were brought without any consultations with states and farmer unions, and lacked national consensus.
“Parliamentary scrutiny was bypassed and the laws were pushed through muzzling the Opposition, in brazen violation of Parliamentary rules, practices and conventions. The very constitutional validity of these laws remains in question.”
Azad alleged that the Opposition has been against the manner in which the three bills were passed in Parliament and the demands of farmers not met.
“Those responsible for the violence should be punished and taken to task. The government would have to take responsibility that had it not shown arrogance and taken the laws back, these incidents would not have taken place,” he said.
“We strongly believe that the government has miserably failed in handling the farmers agitation,” the senior Congress leader said.
Interestingly, with a view to have a paperless Budget, all the documents and the Economic Survey would be made available online soon after the authenticated copies are laid on the Table of the House, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has said.
Like the last time, in this session too COVID-19 protocols will be in place and Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha will meet in shifts of five hours each — with the upper house meeting in the morning and the lower house in the evening.
Due to the pandemic, the Winter session was not held.
The Question Hour also makes a comeback in this session.
Due to paucity of time, there was no Question Hour in the previous session. The Monsoon session also saw the two Houses working on Saturdays and Sundays. But this time, Parliament will not sit on weekends.
Private Members’ business which usually takes place on Friday afternoons has also made a comeback in the Budget session, according to Lok Sabha secretariat. In the previous session, the Private Members’ business was not taken up.
Members introduce their own bills and resolutions during this period which are debated by the House.
During the session the government will also push to convert ordinances issued recently into laws. An ordinance has to be converted into a law within 42 days of the beginning of the session, else it lapses.
The ordinances issued recently include The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020, The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 and The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.
The session would conclude on April 8. In order to enable the standing committees to consider the Demands for Grants of ministries and prepare their reports, the Houses will adjourn on February 15 and meet again on March 8. (PTI)