Over 400 Parliament staff members test COVID-19 positive ahead of Budget Session

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The stage is set for a stormy Budget Session of Parliament that begins on Monday with the opposition set to target the Modi government on issues such as the Pegasus snooping row, farm distress and Chinese “incursions” in eastern Ladakh.

The session will begin with President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha assembled together in the Central Hall and chambers of both the Houses in view of the COVID-19 situation.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Economic Survey 2021-22 on Monday and the Union Budget on Tuesday.

Given the ongoing third wave of the pandemic, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will return to have separate sittings in shifts with members seated across both chambers of Parliament to ensure distancing norms.

The Lok Sabha will take up the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address from Wednesday and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to reply to the debate on February seven.

Lok Sabha secretariat officials said four days beginning February 2 have been provisionally allotted for the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address.

The first part of the Budget Session will be held from January 31 to February 11 after which it will go into recess to examine the budgetary allocations for different departments.

The Session would resume on March 14 and conclude on April 8.

The Budget Session is taking place amid a heated election campaign in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa, and Manipur – which go to polls in seven phases from February 10 to March 7.

The main opposition Congress has declared that it will reach out to like-minded parties to raise issues such as farm distress, Chinese “incursions”, demand for relief package for COVID-19 victims, sale of Air India and the Pegasus snooping row during the session.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu are set to chair separate meetings with floor leaders of political parties on Monday to ensure smooth functioning of the House during the session.