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Union parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar announces schedule for the budget session, President Ram Nath Kovind to address both Houses on Jan 29

Soon after the Winter Session of Parliament ended on Friday following an impasse over the anti-triple talaq Bill, Union parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar announced that the Budget Session would commence in a matter of just three weeks – from January 29.

President Ram Nath Kovind will address the joint sitting of the two Houses on January 29 and the Economic Survey will be tabled on the same day.

Kumar announced that while the first part of the Budget Session would last from January 29 to February 9, the general budget will be presented on February 1. It may be recalled that from 2016, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government had ended the tradition of presenting the Railway Budget separately – usually announced two days ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget. The government now presents a common budget, with allocations for the railways included within the Union Budget itself.

On February 9, the Parliament will break for its customary recess and reconvene for the second part of the Budget Session from March 5. The session will end on April 6.

Details of how many actual sittings the Budget Session will have are still awaited. The government also has to declare the legislative agenda for the session, an announcement of which is expected over the next few days.

The Modi government had faced considerable flak for delaying the commencement of the winter session in wake of the Assembly polls that were held in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat in November and early December respectively. A curtailed winter session, with just 14 days of legislative sittings, was convened from December 15 after the second phase of the Gujarat Assembly polls ended on the previous day.

The winter session ended on Friday (January 5). A session marred by uproar by the Congress-led Opposition over various issues – including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unsubstantiated criticism of his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh for allegedly hatching a conspiracy with Pakistan in wake of the Gujarat assembly polls, the anti-Dalit violence in Maharashtra and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill – saw both Houses of Parliament transact little legislative business.

A total of 40 Bills and one financial item had been identified by the government for being taken up in both Houses of Parliament during the Winter Session. Of these, the Lok Sabha was able to pass only 12 legislations – including the contentious Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill. The Rajya Sabha, where the Modi government is in a minority, saw only nine Bills being passed. The government had hoped to get the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha – following its smooth passage in the Lok Sabha on December 28 – but the Opposition’s insistence of sending the Bill to a select committee off the House and the Treasury’s reluctance to do so, ensured that the legislation was not passed.

Since the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill had originated in the Lok Sabha and could not be passed by the Rajya Sabha within the Winter Session, it now stands lapsed. It remains to be seen whether the Centre will be able to evolve a consensus over this Bill before the Budget Session and have it passed afresh by both Houses of Parliament when they convene for the second-half of the session in March-April.

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