New Delhi: The Budget session of Parliament kicks off Tuesday with opposition parties geared up to target the government on a range of issues including the Adani-Hindenburg row while the Centre asserted it was willing to discuss every matter allowed by rules.
The session will commence with the maiden address of President Droupadi Murmu to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament. The address essentially highlights the government’s achievements and policy priorities.
The Economic Survey will be also tabled Tuesday after the President’s address.
On the eve of the Budget session, opposition parties Monday raised the Adani issue and the conduct of governors in some states ruled by them at an all-party meeting.
With several regional parties signaling their intention to also raise issues relating to unemployment, price rise and the Centre’s alleged bias in sharing revenue with states, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the government has always been positive to discussing every topic but maintained that it should be held under the rules and with the Chair’s permission.
“We seek the opposition’s cooperation in running Parliament smoothly,” Joshi told reporters after the meeting which was attended by 37 leaders, representing 27 parties. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal were among others who attended the meeting.
The Budget session will have 27 sittings.
The first part of the session will conclude February 14. Parliament will reconvene March 12 for the second part of the session and continue till April 6.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will Wednesday present the last full-fledged Union Budget of the Modi government before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections
When away from work, Members of Parliament will now also get a chance to savour new menus.
From jowar vegetable upma to ragi dosa, bajre ki tikki to bajra khichdi — these food items made of millets will now be part of the menu of Parliament House canteens.
With the government promoting the use of millets, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has made arrangements for serving the dishes made primarily with ragi, jowar, bajra, rajgira and kangni to MPs, staff and visitors.
The government plans to bring around 36 bills – including four related to the budgetary exercise – during the session.
As most Congress leaders were busy with the Bharat Jodo Yatra’s conclusion, the main opposition party was not represented at the all-party meeting. A Congress leader who had to be present could not reach. Minister Joshi said its floor leaders are likely to meet him Tuesday to convey their views.
The meeting saw Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Manoj Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and leaders representing other opposition parties like the Shiv Sena faction headed by Uddhav Thackeray, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Left raising the Adani issue and seeking discussion on it during the session.
The BRS and the DMK which govern Telangana and Tamil Nadu respectively raised the issue of conduct of governors in their respective states.
Sources said the BRS is also reaching out to some opposition parties for boycotting the President’s address to lodge its protest against the government over various issues.
The US-based short seller Hindenburg Research has accused the Adani Group of several wrongdoings like stock manipulation and fraud. The company has dismissed the allegations as “nothing but a lie”.
Jha and Singh told reporters that public sector insurance firm LIC has invested huge sums of money in the Adani group of companies.
“There is no statement from the government. It must discuss the issue,” Jha said.
The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) said it has an exposure of Rs 36,474.78 crore to Adani group’s debt and equity, and the amount is less than one per cent of the national insurer’s total investments.
The Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray demanded SEBI investigation into alleged stock manipulation by the Adani group and “overexposure” of LIC and SBI funds in shares of the group companies.
TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said space must be given to opposition parties in Parliament and the legislature should not be used merely for passing bills.
He also spoke about the government’s ban on a controversial BBC documentary on the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
Parties like the YSR Congress, the BRS, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), in power in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and West Bengal respectively, made a fresh pitch for the passage of a bill ensuring quota for women in legislatures.
The YSR Congress also demanded a nationwide caste-based economic census at the meet with its leader Vijaysai Reddy asserting that it is necessary to know the economic status of the backward castes who are “lagging behind” on social and development indicators.
Reddy said the backward castes are more than 50 per cent of the total population and the census will help find their economic status.
The ruling party in Andhra Pradesh has joined the likes of the JD (U) and the RJD, both of which have demanded a caste census for similar reasons. The grand alliance government in Bihar has rolled out a state-wide caste survey.
Parties including the TRS, TMC and the BJD also supported the demand.
The BSP raised the issue of the prolonged border row between India and China and the military standoff in eastern Ladakh. However, government sources cited security implications to rule out a discussion on these matters.
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