New Delhi: With the interim budget to be presented on February 1, the budget session commenced on Thursday and will continue till February 13. The session has begun with an address by President Ram Nath Kovind to a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
It will be the last session of the 16th Lok Sabha as the elections are likely to be held in April-May.
The President will list out the achievements of the ruling NDA government during the session. He said he is committed to a corruption free India.
He said, “My government has taken a pledge for a ‘New India’, an India where nobody remains hungry, an India where everyone gets basic healthcare and education. I am happy to inform you all that the benefits of government schemes are reaching the masses, as had been aimed from the start. The poorest of poor are getting basic needs of life fulfilled, from healthcare to sanitation, education to cooking gas, and much more. The direct benefit transfers are also reaching the poor without any pilferage.”
Addressing the joint sitting in Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind said that over 9 crore toilets created under the Swacch Bharat Yojna has made the lives of thousands of women better and helped them to live with dignity.
My government is committed to lighting up the life of every person of the country, President Kovind said as he listed out the achievements of the NDA government on behalf of PM Modi.
“I am happy to inform you that under the ‘Make In India’ programme, India has already become the world’s 2nd largest manufacturer of mobile phones,” he said.
Most of our mothers, sisters and daughters, would remain sick because of the smoke released from stove and thus the health of the whole family was affected. Under the Ujjwala scheme, more than 6 crore gas connections have been given so far, said President Kovind.
To end all kinds of injustice in the country, my government has taken a lot of steps. We have decided to punish rapists of minors with death sentence. We have also brought up the issue of triple talaq to fight for the rights of women, President Kovind said at the joint sitting.
President Kovind said the Citizenship Amendment Bill will make it easier to provide Indian citizenship to those who had to take refuge in India after facing oppression somewhere else. “They were not at fault, they were victims of situations.”
The government is working on policies to empower farmers. The minimum support price (MSP) of crops has been increased to benefit farmers, President Kovind said.
“The life of each of the people is better, that is the main mission of my Government. We are well aware that the expense of curing diseases is a burden for the poor families. My Government launched ‘Ayushaman India Scheme’ last year,” he said.
The government has taken strong steps against black money. Agreements have been agreed with countries considered as tax havens. Demonetisation was a major step against black money, it brought unaccounted cash back into system. Shell companies were forced to close shop
He said that be it a city or a village, the government is trying to strengthen the health-related infrastructure by opening new medical colleges, upgrading district hospitals and opening a wellness centre in every major panchayat of the country.
Remembering former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the President said that Vajpayee understood the miserable, sensitive issues including the problems of the poor. New departments, ministries and programmes were introduced for the masses. “With a sensitive approach towards injustices of every kind of community prevalent in society, my Government has attempted a proper transformation in the law system for social and economic justice.”
In his address, the president said, “Every parent dreams that their children are well-read and continue to pursue good life. To enhance the opportunities for high-level professional education, the Government is setting up new educational institutions and setting up 7 IIT, 7 IIM, 14 IIIT’s, 1 NIT and 4 NID. Not just benefits, but infrastructure and institutions are also being built by my government at a record pace. From toilets to roads, hospitals to schools, institutes like AIIMS are being built at a brisk pace across various states in the country.”
He said there was a major increase in people who file income tax returns. “The tax paying citizen is now confident his money is being put into right use.”
Under Jan Dhan Yojana, 34 crore people have opened a bank account and almost every family in the country is connected to the banking system. According to an international agency, 55% of the total bank accounts opened between 2014-2017 were opened in India itself, says the President
“The expansion of ‘direct benefit transfer’ has reached over Rs. 6 lakh crores of rupees to beneficiaries in the past four years. Because of this, about 1 lakh to 10 thousand crores of rupees are saved in the wrong hands,” he added.
PM Modi urges Oppn to cooperate
Before the Budget session began, PM Narendra Modi urged the Opposition to cooperate. “The nation is well aware of the hardships we are facing. We will work towards the development of the nation. I hope all parties contribute towards the smooth functioning of the budget session of Parliament,” he said.
PM Modi added, “The country is observing the proceedings of the Parliament. The MPs should hold a meaningful debate in this session of the Parliament. We are eager to hold a debate on all important issues.”
Full budget or interim budget?
Earlier, there was a confusion over whether the budget would be termed ‘full budget’. The finance ministry, however, clarified on Wednesday that the term was used only for communication and that only an interim budget would be presented on February 1.
On the eve of Budget session, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday said all parties have assured their cooperation in smooth functioning of the house and urged the members to raise issues of national importance.
The brief session will have 10 sittings and the government is expected to make another push for getting the triple talaq bill passed in the Rajya Sabha, where it is pending.