Last Budget Session of LS begins today
FM will also present Budget for Jammu and Kashmir
New Delhi: The Budget Session of Parliament, the last of the present Lok Sabha, begins today with President Droupadi Murmu addressing a joint sitting of the lower and upper Houses, and the government urging opposition parties to cooperate in the smooth conduct of the proceedings.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Interim Budget on February 1 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections likely to be held in April-May.
The new government will present the full budget after it assumes office.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told a meeting of floor leaders of political parties in Parliament that Sitharaman will also present the Budget for Jammu and Kashmir, which is under the President’s Rule.
Joshi said the main agenda of the 17th Lok Sabha’s brief session, set to conclude on February 9, was the President’s Address, presentation of the Interim Budget and the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address with a reply by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Opposition leaders raised a host of issues during the meeting of floor leaders chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Congress leader K Suresh said the party would raise the issue of unemployment, high inflation, agrarian distress, and the situation in ethnic violence-hit Manipur during the session.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the finance minister should include the pending dues to West Bengal on account of various central schemes in the Interim Budget.
“It is unfortunate that a chief minister has to sit on a dharna to demand timely allocation of central dues to the state,” he said.
Samajwadi Party leader S T Hassan demanded steps to strengthen the Places of Worship Act that freezes the status of religious places of worship as they existed on August 15, 1947, and prohibits their conversion while ensuring the maintenance of their religious character.
Hassan’s demand came in the wake of demands to hand over the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi to the Hindu community.
Emerging from the customary all-party meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Joshi described the interaction as “very cordial” and said the government was ready to discuss every issue during the brief session.
Joshi said the government did not have any legislative agenda for the Budget Session and its thrust would be on the President’s Address, debate on the Motion of Thanks, presentation of the Interim Budget and the budget for Jammu and Kashmir.
“They have given suggestions, but since this is the last session of the present Lok Sabha. We have said, we will give them an opportunity in the next session,” Joshi said.
NCP President Sharad Pawar, JD(U)’s Ram Nath Thakur and TDP’s Jayadev Galla were among the leaders present at the meeting at the Parliament House complex.
Congress Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha Pramod Tiwari, who represented the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, said he raised the issue of the “violent attack” on the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi in Assam and the state government’s curbs on it.
An “unwritten dictatorship” prevails in the country, he said and accused the central government of misusing probe agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate to target opposition leaders such as Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad.
Tiwari said he raised these issues after consulting opposition parties.
It is a customary practice ahead of every session to convene a meeting as leaders of different parties highlight the issues they want to raise in Parliament, and the government offers them a glimpse into its agenda and seeks their cooperation.