The second part of the Union Budget Session begins Monday, but the usual political buzz witnessed in Delhi before Parliament sessions is missing this time.
The assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Puducherry, Kerala and Assam have taken the focus away from the Parliament as most of the major political parties, including the BJP, Congress, Left, Trinamool Congress, AIADMK, and DMK, are busy with seat-sharing negotiations and election campaigns.
The opposition parties have a sizeable representation from these states — all except Assam are ruled by parties other than the BJP — and their voices are likely to be missed when key Budget allocations to various departments and programmes are discussed in Parliament.
The second part of the Budget Session is scheduled from March 8 to April 8 and this is the crucial period when campaigning will be at its peak in the election-bound states. Voting in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry is scheduled for April 6, by when the session would be practically over. The second of the three-phase polling in Assam and third of the eight-phase election in West Bengal are also scheduled for April 6.
Most of the MPs from West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry will be missing during the session as they will be busy with assembly elections in their states, according to a senior Congress MP.
While the first phase of voting in West Bengal and Assam is on March 27, the last phase of voting in West Bengal is on April 29. The MPs, especially those in Lok Sabha, would be busy over the next two months as results are scheduled to come out on May 2, followed by the formation of new governments in these states, he added. The Congress, for example, has 19 Lok Sabha MPs from Kerala, including Rahul Gandhi, and nine from Tamil Nadu.
The treasury benches are likely to see thin attendance since Prime Minister Narendra Modi — the star campaigner for BJP — is likely to address a number of mega rallies across the five states. Home Minister Amit Shah will be occupied with West Bengal due to his special focus on painting the eastern state saffron by dethroning TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee. In fact, Amit Shah has urged BJP workers to toil for sweeping 200 seats in West Bengal.
Due to the assembly elections, the agitation by farmers is not likely to echo in Parliament during the second session, unlike the first part, an MP from a regional party said. Though the farmers continue to protest at Delhi’s borders, their numbers have dwindled in recent weeks.
Most MPs from these election-bound states have been given election responsibilities by their respective parties, the MP added. The Rajya Sabha MPs are, however, expected in larger numbers in the Parliament than their Lok Sabha counterparts, co-ordinating issues like representations to the Election Commission of India.
On the legislative front, The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021 grouping seven sub-sects into the broader category of Devendrakula Vellalar in Tamil Nadu is expected to be taken up in Parliament. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on February 13 — the final day of the first part of the Budget Session of Parliament.
The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill of 2021, meant for redevelopment of slum clusters of Delhi, is also likely to come up during the second part of the Budget Session.
Budget allocation of key departments like health, defence, education and key programmes are expected to be taken up in accordance with standing committee deliberations that have happened after the first part of the session concluded.
The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill of 2021, replacing the ordinance issued earlier to define the law for conducting conciliation, is also on the Centre’s agenda.
A BJP MP said thin attendance could mean less noisy discussions on technical issues. He said opposition may call for postponement of discussions on politically-sensitive bills, but the Parliament cannot defer consideration of Budget-related issues like demands for grants.