Suspended MPs to return as last session of 17th Lok Sabha commences on January 31

The Interim Budget is to be presented on February 1; 14 MPs whose cases were referred to the Privileges Committees of the two Houses of Parliament are to return 

Updated - January 31, 2024 12:20 am IST

Published - January 30, 2024 03:59 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Ministers Pralhad Joshi, Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal attend the all-party meeting ahead of the Budget Session, in New Delhi on January 30, 2024.

Union Ministers Pralhad Joshi, Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal attend the all-party meeting ahead of the Budget Session, in New Delhi on January 30, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

The Budget Session of Parliament, the last one for the 17th Lok Sabha, will commence on January 31. The 14 Opposition MPs, who were suspended during the last session for protesting against the lack of a response from the government after an unprecedented security breach, will return to Parliament, after the Privileges Committee of the two Houses recommended the revocation of their suspension. 

A total of 146 Opposition MPs — 100 in the Lok Sabha and the rest in the Rajya Sabha — were suspended for bringing placards into the chambers, and frequently disrupting parliamentary proceedings. While the suspension of 132 members was only till the remainder of the session that ended on December 21, the cases of 14 members (11 in the Rajya Sabha and three in the Lok Sabha) were referred to their respective Privileges Committees. 

The session will begin with President Droupadi Murmu addressing a joint sitting of the Lower and Upper Houses. At an all party meeting, the government urged the Opposition parties to cooperate and to ensure that no placards were on display. 

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Interim Budget on February 1, ahead of the Lok Sabha election likely to be held in April-May. The Budget for Jammu and Kashmir, which is under President’s Rule since December 2018, will also be presented during the session. 

With the Janata Dal-United’s (JD-U) return to the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) fold, and the differences evident between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Congress, the Opposition will be on a backfoot. Several senior Congress leaders, including former party chief Rahul Gandhi, and general secretaries K.C. Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh, who are participating in the party’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, are unlikely to be present. 

This will be the first Lok Sabha without a Deputy Speaker, a post mandated under Article 93 of the Constitution.

At the all party meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Opposition members raised a host of issues, and demanded a debate on unemployment, high inflation, agrarian crisis, and violence-hit Manipur. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi addressed reporters at the conclusion of the meeting. ”They [the Opposition] have given suggestions, but since this is the last session of the present Lok Sabha, we [the Union government] have said we will give them an opportunity in the next session,” he said. 

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the Finance Minister should include the pending dues to West Bengal on account of various Central schemes in the Interim Budget. “It is unfortunate that a Chief Minister has to sit on a dharna to demand timely allocation of Central dues to the State,” he said.

Samajwadi Party (SP) leader S.T. Hassan demanded steps to strengthen the Places of Worship Act, which freezes the status of religious places of worship as they existed on August 15, 1947 and prohibits their conversion while ensuring the maintenance of their religious character. Mr. Hassan’s call came in the wake of demands to hand over the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi to the Hindu community.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar, the JD(U)‘s Ram Nath Thakur, and the Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) Jayadev Galla were among the leaders present at the meeting in the Parliament House complex.

The Congress’ deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Pramod Tiwari, who represented the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said he had raised the issue of the “violent attack” on the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra led by Mr. Gandhi in Assam, and the curbs placed by the State government on it.

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