Sixteen Opposition parties declared a boycott of President Ram Nath Kovind's address to the joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Friday, setting the stage for a stormy Budget Session of Parliament.
Congress and 15 like-minded parties issued a joint statement announcing the boycott of the first day of the Budget Session, expressing solidarity with the agitating farmers and renewing the collective demand for repeal of the three farm laws.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior leader Jairam Ramesh had reached out to like-minded parties urging them to boycott the President's address. NCP, National Conference, DMK, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, RJD, CPI(M), CPI, Muslim League, RSP, PDP, MDMK, Kerala Congress (M) and the AIUDF have agreed to join the boycott.
Separately, AAP and Akali Dal also announced the boycott of the first day of the Budget Session.
“The three farm laws are an assault on the rights of the States and violate the federal spirit of the Constitution. If not repealed, these laws will effectively dismantle the edifice of National Food Security that rests upon – MSP, government procurement and public distribution system,” Azad told reporters on behalf of the 16 like-minded parties.
The Budget Session of Parliament gets underway on Friday when the government is also scheduled to present the Economic Survey for 2020-21.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget on Monday, February 1.
Keeping in line with the Covid-19 protocol, lawmakers will be spread across the three chambers – the Central Hall, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha for the joint sitting. The President will deliver his address from the Central Hall, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former prime ministers, Deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, members of the Council of Ministers, Presidents of BJP and Congress will have seats earmarked for them.
Besides, leaders of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, leaders of parties having more than eight members in the Lok Sabha and five members in the Rajya Sabha and Chairpersons of Parliamentary Committees will also be seated in the Central Hall.