New Delhi: The Budget Session of the Parliament, the last one of the present government, will start today. The session, which will end on February 13, will begin with an address by President Ram Nath Kovind to joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
The session is expected to be a stormy one during which the government is expected to make a host of populist announcements while the opposition is likely to corner it on a range of issues, including the Rafale fighter jet deal and the alleged agrarian distress.
Finance Minister Piyush Goyal will present the interim budget on Friday and the government may announce a number of welfare measures aimed at various sections of society, as the ruling BJP-National Democratic Alliance readies itself for the general election, likely in April-May.
The Finance Ministry on Wednesday clarified that the Government would indeed be presenting the Interim Budget this Friday. Earlier, reports had suggested that the Government was likely to present a full-fledged Budget instead of a vote-on-account.
Despite it being an interim budget, the government is expected to make some big-ticket announcements which may include sops for farming sector and increment in income tax exemption limit.
The Opposition is also set to vehemently oppose any populist announcement by the government on the ground that it has no “right” to do so as its term is ending in a few months.
Meanwhile, the government will make efforts to pass contentious bills on citizenship and triple talaq, even as stiff opposition to these proposed legislations has denied them the parliamentary approval so far. Some BJP allies like the JD(U) have also expressed their reservations to these bills.
The government is keen on the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to grant persecuted minorities- including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians – from a few neighbouring countries Indian citizenship.
The triple talaq bill proposes jail term for Muslim men for practising instant divorce.
The Representation of the People Act (Amendment) Bill 2017, which will allow NRIs to cast their vote in Indian polls through proxies, and the National Medical Council are also on the government’s agenda.
These key bills are struck in the Rajya Sabha where the government lacks numbers.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill is stuck in the Rajya Sabha amid the Opposition demanding that the government drop Bangladesh from the list of nations from where the refugees would be eligible to apply for citizenship. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha during the Winter session. The Opposition in the Rajya Sabha has demanded that the Bill be sent to a select committee.
The government’s plea in the Supreme Court to return superfluous land around the disputed site in Ayodhya, where the BJP wants the Ram temple built, is also expected to generate heat in Parliament.