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Budget session likely from Feb 23

Budget session

New Delhi : The Budget session of Parliament is likely to begin on February 23 as the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh meets here on February 4 to finalise the broad schedule.

The main focus of the session will be the transaction of the General and Railway budgets but the government is also keen to get passed a number of key reforms measures including the contentious GST and Real Estate Bills.

Sources said that the session is likely to begin on February 23. Usually, the budget session begins in the third week of February and concludes early May. There is a recess in between when the budgetary demands for grants are discussed in the committees.

The General Budget is expected to be presented in the Lok Sabha on Feb 29, the last day of February, as is the practice traditionally.

Meanwhile the process for the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam  and Puducherry, where the tenure of the Assemblies is set to end in May-June, will begin in the midst of the session and that could raise questions about the number of sittings.  A curtailment may be necessary to accommodate campaign by leaders during the elections.

Against the backdrop of near washout of the previous sessions,  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today expressed the hope that Congress will “see reason” and help in passage of GST legislation, which is stuck in the Rajya Sabha during the coming session.

“It (GST) is the important reform of UPA. If I had to credit the authorship of it, I have to give credit to them. Now, If the author turns against his own script, what do I make… I have reached out (and) I have spoken to them. I have explained to them and I hope they will see reason… (and) see the rationale behind passing GST,” he said speaking at a public function here.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had earlier this month met Congress President Sonia Gandhi seeking cooperation for the early passage of the crucial GST bill and the Real Estate bill.

Naidu said today that Opposition should refrain from disrupting the proceedings.

“We have no problem.  Government is ready to discuss any and every issue,” he said amidst indications that the Opposition might aggressively take up the issue of imposition of President’s rule in Congress-ruled Arunachal Pradesh and the suicide of a dalit student in Hyderabad University.

The Winter session had ended on December 23, leaving the Goods and Services Tax Bill and a number of other measures in a limbo.

The government’s legislative agenda had suffered a serious setback due to lack of support from the numerically stronger Congress-led opposition in the Rajya Sabha.  This had prompted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to raise the question of how an “unelected” house could overrule the mandate of the “elected” house.

In the winter session, the Rajya Sabha saw passage of nine bills but lost 47 hours due to disruptions caused almost every day by Congress which raised one issue after another.

The Lok Sabha performed a little better as it passed 13 bills and saw discussions over various issues like price rise, flood and drought situation, despite repeated uproar created by the opposition Congress over various issues.

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