The second part of the Budget session of Parliament begins today amid a scorching Assembly polls campaign, continuing farmer protest, and, most importantly, spiking fuel prices. On that final item, the main opposition party, the Congress, is set to move an adjournment motion seeking a debate in both Houses. At least one party, the Trinamool Congress, has sought the adjournment of the session given that key state elections are only a few weeks away and MPs may not be able to attend.
Although in the past few days, petrol and diesel rates have remained largely unchanged, they’ve been rising continuously over the many weeks. Several leaders and their parties have been demonstrating against this phenomenon, with many even riding bicycles, bullock carts, and electric scooters to work. Indian Oil Corporation, the country’s largest state-run oil refiner last hiked prices on February 27 to an all-time high of Rs 91.17 in the national capital. Since then, the rates have remained unchanged across all four metro cities.
The session also begins days after the Election Commission announced the poll dates for West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry Assemblies. The election in these states will be held between March 27 and April 29. The results will be announced on May 2. Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien have written to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha authorities, respectively, to adjourn the session due to the elections.
“Due to the ongoing intensive election preparations in the state (West Bengal), Members of Parliament from the All India Trinamool Congress would find it difficult to attend the second part of the Budget Session beginning from 8th March, 2021,” Mr O’Brien wrote in his letter dated March 8 to the Rajya Sabha Chairman.
Then there is the matter of the farmers’ agitation which has been on since November last year. Although the intensity of the agitation has apparently come down in the past few weeks, the protesters themselves have refused to budge.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who has led several rounds of negotiations on the three new and contentious farm laws, yesterday said that the Centre was willing to amend the laws even though that didn’t imply the laws were flawed.
The government, on its part, is likely to focus on getting the Finance Bill 2021-22 passed. The session will end on April 8.
The Budget Session commenced with the address of President Ram Nath Kovind on January 29, and the first part ended on February 29. The annual budget was tabled by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1.
The Rajya Sabha will function from 9 am to 2 pm while Lok Sabha will function between 4 pm to 10 pm, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has informed.
The Lok Sabha clocked 99.5 per cent productivity during the first phase of the session, sitting for 49 hours and 17 minutes against the stipulated 50 hours.
Meanwhile, a Covid-19 vaccination centre for MPs has been set up inside the Parliament complex, a Lok Sabha bulletin has said, adding that it will be voluntary exercise.