The Budget Session of Parliament will begin on January 31 ahead of assembly polls in five states with the Opposition geared up to corner the government on a host of issues, including Pegasus snooping allegations, farmers’ issues and the border row with China, on the first day
The session in two legs – January 31 to February 11 and March 14 to April 8 – amid a spike in COVID-19 cases will start with the customary address of President Ram Nath Kovind to a joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members at 11 am today.
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Later in the day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will table the Economic Survey 2021-22 in both the Houses, ahead of the Budget day on February 1. The Economic Survey will be tabled in the Lok Sabha post noon and in Rajya Sabha after 2:30 pm. The Centre will officially release the survey after tabling it in both Houses of Parliament.
On the second day, on February 1, the Finance Minister will present the Budget in the Lok Sabha at 11 am. The proceedings of the Rajya Sabha will begin one hour after the Budget speech in the Lok Sabha. Sitharaman will also present the Budget in the Rajya Sabha on February 1.
The session is crucial for both the ruling and Opposition parties as deliberations during the first leg would have a bearing on assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Manipur. Though, most of the members from the poll-bound states are likely to be absent in the first leg of the session, the issues related to these poll-bound states would be taken up during discussions in both the Houses,
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The Opposition has said that it will raise the Pegasus snooping allegations, among other issues, in the Parliament. The report in The New York Times claiming that the Centre bought Pegasus – allegedly used against Opposition leaders, journalists, activists, among others – is set to rock the proceedings of both Houses.
The Congress’s Lok Sabha floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on January 30 to seek a privilege motion against Union minister of information technology Ashwini Vaishnaw for “deliberately misleading the House on the Pegasus issue”. The Opposition alleges that the Minister lied in the Parliament and the Supreme Court on questions on whether or not it bought the Israeli spyware.
All eyes will, however, be on non-BJP parties during Opposition’s unity as electoral compulsions in poll-bound states has kept them divided in Parliament in the past. In the Winter Session of Parliament, for example, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) did not attend meetings called by Congress on floor strategy.
The NCP and Shiv Sena have come together against Congress in Goa where the TMC and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are also fighting separately. In Punjab too, the Congress is fighting against the AAP. In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party is giving a tough fight to the BJP while the Congress is fighting alone.From February 2, the proceedings of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will run in two shifts under the COVID-19 protocol. The proceedings of the Rajya Sabha will take place between 10 am and 3 pm. Lok Sabha will function from 4 pm to 9 pm. The two-shift proceeding arrangement has been made only for the first phase of the Budget Session, until February 11.