Seventeen Opposition parties have announced the boycott of President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to Parliament on the first day of the Budget Session on Friday in protest against the three farm laws passed in September. Here is all you need to know about the potentially stormy session as the Opposition parties are set to confront the government:
• This is the first time in recent history that nearly the entire Opposition will boycott the President’s customary address to Parliament at the beginning of the first session every year.
• In 2019, the Opposition skipped Kovind’s special address to a joint sitting on the occasion of Constitution Day.
• The Opposition parties have called the farm laws an assault on the rights of the states and violation of the federal spirit of the Constitution.
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• They added if not repealed, the laws will effectively dismantle the edifice of National Food Security that rests upon minimum support prices, government procurement and Public Distribution System.
• Except for Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, all Opposition parties are boycotting the address even as parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi has asked the Opposition to reconsider the decision as the government is ready to discuss all issues threadbare.
• Opposition parties intend to demand the repeal of the three laws that seek to ease restrictions in farm trade, allow traders to stockpile large quantities of food stocks for future sales and lay down a national framework for contract farming based on written agreements.
• Farmers say the laws will erode their bargaining power and leave them at the mercy of powerful agribusinesses.
• Opposition parties also plan to target the government on its handling of the Covid-19-ravaged economy and the India-China border staff during the session.
• They announced full support to farmers and claimed the government played a “nefarious role in orchestrating” the violence that marred protest rallies by farmers on Republic Day and said their main aim in the session would be to have the laws repealed.
• Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that the session will offer “ample opportunity” for MPs to raise issues as this will be a long one with Question Hour and Zero Hour.
• The session will run from January 29 to April 8 with a recess from February 15 to March 7.
• The budget is to be presented on February 1.
• The government seeks to replace four ordinances—the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020; the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance. 2020; the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, and the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020— during the session.
• It will also push a data protection bill and the DNA technology regulation bill.