- The opposition parties planned to corner the Centre over rising fuel prices and farmers’ ongoing protests against three agricultural laws
- The Parliament session takes place in the midst of intense campaigning for elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry
- Today is the start of the second part of Parliament’s Budget Session
The opposition parties have decided to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in the upcoming Parliament session on the issues of rising fuel prices and the ongoing farmers’ agitation over three new farm laws. The two Houses are supposed to resume today in the midst of a sweltering Assembly election campaign, ongoing farmer protests, and, most notably, skyrocketing fuel, diesel, and LPG rates. At least one party, the Trinamool Congress, has requested a postponement because important state elections are coming up in a few weeks and MPs will be unable to attend.
While petrol and diesel prices have remained relatively unchanged in recent days, they have been steadily increasing for several weeks. Several politicians and political parties have protested this trend, with some also riding bicycles, bullock carts, and electric scooters to work. The country’s largest state-run oil refiner, Indian Oil Corporation, raised prices to an all-time high of 91.17 in the national capital on February 27. The rates have remained constant in all four metro cities since then.
“I don’t want to take any drastic measures on the first day,” Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said today, referring to the Congress MPs who were protesting.
Mallikarjuna Kharge, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had previously expressed his party’s doubts about the matter. He requested that the House proceedings be halted so that he could debate this under Rule 257.
“Today, the price of petrol is about 100 per litre. Diesel, too, has surpassed the 80-Rupees mark. The cost of LPG has also risen. A total amount of Rs. 21 lakh crores of Excise duty has been collected since 2014. As a result, the country is suffering, prices are rising, and unemployment is on the rise “Mr. Kharge explained.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman, on the other hand, rejected his demand, saying the issue could be discussed “during the course of the Appropriation bill’s discussion.” The opposition parties responded by raising slogans. Mr Naidu adjourned the House until 11 a.m. after sloganeering continued amid the chairman’s requests.
The session started just days after the Election Commission declared the dates for the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry. These states’ elections will take place between March 27 and April 29. On May 2, the results will be announced. Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien, both Trinamool MPs, have written to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha authorities, requesting that the session be adjourned due to the elections.
Mr. O’Brien wrote to the Rajya Sabha Chairman on March 8 that “due to the ongoing vigorous election preparations in the state (West Bengal), Members of Parliament from the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) will find it difficult to attend the second part of the Budget Session beginning on the 8th March, 2021.”
Then there’s the farmers’ protest, which has been going on since November of last year. The demonstrators have refused to budge, despite the fact that the intensity of the protest has reportedly decreased in recent weeks.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who has led several rounds of negotiations on the three new and controversial farm laws, said yesterday that the government was willing to amend them, but this did not mean that they were flawed.
The government, for its part, will most likely concentrate on passing the Finance Bill 2021-22. On April 8, the session will come to an end.
The first part of the Budget Session began on January 29 with President Ram Nath Kovind’s address and ended on February 29. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the annual budget on February 1.
The Rajya Sabha will operate from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the Lok Sabha will operate from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
Meanwhile, a Covid-19 vaccination centre for MPs has been established within the Parliament complex, according to a Lok Sabha bulletin, with the exercise being voluntary.