Parliament's Budget session begins, last of present Lok Sabha

Parliament will only pass interim budget for the rest of the tenure of the government, minister may make a host of proposals to woo different voting blocs

photo: @JoshiPralhad/X
photo: @JoshiPralhad/X


The Budget session of Parliament, the last of the present Lok Sabha, began on Wednesday with an address by President Droupadi Murmu to a joint sitting, as the government sought cooperation from Opposition parties to ensure the proceedings run smoothly.

All eyes are on the President's address and the interim budget which finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present on 1 February, as they are likely to offer a glimpse into the ruling BJP's agenda for the Lok Sabha polls, expected in April-May.

Following the customary all-party meeting on the eve of the session, Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said the government sought the cooperation of all the parties for the short session, even as the main opposition Congress raised issues like the alleged attack on the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Assam, the alleged "misuse" of probe agencies, and the Manipur situation.

Joshi said the main agenda of the 17th Lok Sabha's brief session, set to conclude on 9 February, was the President's address, the 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.

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 15 August 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, Joshi described the interaction as "very cordial" and said the government was ready to discuss every issue during the brief session.

He added that the government had no 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 in a lighter vein, while expressing confidence that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance would retain power in the elections.

Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Pramod Tiwari, who represented Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said he raised the issue of the "violent attack" on the Bharat Jodo Nyay 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 CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and ED (Enforcement Directorate) to target opposition leaders such as Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren and RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) supremo Lalu Prasad.

Tiwari said he raised these issues after consulting opposition parties.

NCP president Sharad Pawar, Janata Dal (United)'s Ram Nath Thakur and the Telugu Desam Party's Jayadev Galla were among the leaders present at the meeting at the Parliament House complex.

While Murmu's address is likely to cover a gamut of issues, from political to cultural and economic, to highlight the government's achievements during the 10 years under Modi, political watchers will be keen to see the measures announced by Sitharaman ahead of the polls.

Though Parliament will be passing only the interim budget for the rest of the tenure of the government, the minister may make a host of proposals to woo different voting blocs to highlight what the government will do if re-elected.

Former finance minister Piyush Goyal had presented a host of proposals, including tax sops and welfare measures, in the interim budget he had presented in 2019 before the elections, which saw the government retain power with a stronger mandate.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines