Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh will on Thursday finalise the broad schedule of Budget session during which the government is keen to pass the crucial GST bill.
The CCPA meeting will be followed by another convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu with opposition leaders to discuss the duration of the session in in view of upcoming assembly polls in five states.
The Budget session is likely to begin on February 23 during which the government wants to push its legislative agenda, thwarted in the last two sessions, while the Opposition is raring to target it on a host of issues including dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide and imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh.
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.
However, 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 facilitate campaign by leaders during the elections. The other option could be doing away with the recess between the two parts of the budget session in order to finish the agenda before assembly polls.
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Sources said Naidu will take the view of leaders of parties including BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left, AGP, AIADMK, DMK, which have stakes in these states, on the issue.
In a letter to opposition leaders, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said he would like to seek their advice regarding “ensuing budget session that is coinciding with the election schedule of five states”.
Government sources say there are precedents when the budget session had been held without a break but declined to divulge whether the all-party meeting has been called to arrive at a consensus for a similar approach.
The CCPA headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh will finalize the duration and schedule of the session, whose main focus will be passing of the General and Railway budgets.
Government is also keen to get passed a number of key reform measures including the contentious GST and Real Estate Bills.
The General Budget is expected to be presented in the Lok Sabha on February 29, the last day of February, as is the practice.