Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged MPs to debate and discuss all the issues that concern people of India while keeping the country’s democratic values in mind. His comments came on the first day of what is expected to be a tumultuous Budget Session, with the opposition boycotting the presidential address to the joint session.
“The coming decade is significant for India’s progress. We have to remember the vision and dreams of the greats who fought for our nation’s freedom. Let there be detailed debate and discussions on the floor of Parliament,” Modi told the media ahead of the session.
The PM’s remarks comes amidst tension at Delhi’s borders where farmer unions are continuing their agitation against the government’s contentious farm laws.
Modi said the Union Budget, which is to be presented on Monday, should be seen as part of a series of economic packages – which he described as mini budgets. “It’s the Budget Session. First time it happened that the finance minister had to come out with different packages. There were in fact four to five mini budgets in 2020. So this budget will also be seen as a part of that series of budget,” Modi said.
Earlier, for the first time in recent history, nearly the entire opposition boycotted the president’s customary address to Parliament at the beginning of the first session every year. In 2019, the opposition had skipped Ram Nath Kovind’s special address to a joint sitting on the occasion of Constitution Day.
“The PM and the BJP government remain arrogant, adamant and undemocratic in their response [to farmers’ protests]. Shocked by this insensitivity of the government, we, the following opposition political parties, reaffirming the collective demand for the repeal of the anti-farmer laws and in solidarity with the Indian farmers, have decided to boycott the President’s address to both the Houses of Parliament on Friday, January 29, 2021,” a joint statement signed by all parties said.