Budget session: Prez condemns R-Day violence, says govt took care of poor during lockdown

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday strongly defended the three contentious agri laws that have sparked intense protests from a section of farmers, and slammed as "'very unfortunate" the violence during the farmers' tractor parade on Republic Day.

He also noted that the new agri laws have immediately benefited 10 crore small farmers.

In his customary address to the joint sitting of Parliament on the first day of the Budget session, Kovind said the "insult" to the tricolour and Republic Day during the January 26 protests was "very unfortunate".

If the Constitution gives us the right to freedom of expression, it also reaches us to take laws and rules seriously, he said in his address that was boycotted by over 20 opposition parties in support of the demand of protesting farmers that the three laws be repealed.

In his address, President Kovind said that this session is important as India enters 75th year of its independence.

"It is always an honour to address the joint session of Parliament. When we unite, when the nation unites, we achieve great things. Last year we all experienced a pandemic, one that is still ongoing. It is even more in such times that we must all need to come together and work together. We have lost lives to this pandemic. We have lost some great people like our former President, Pranab Mukherjee and several others" the President said.

"We have reached a time and place where we must reduce our dependence on others for our needs. We must work now to become aatma nirbhar (self-reliant) and self-sufficient. We can achieve this... we have just seen this happen in the healthcare sector. Today, India is successfully running the world's largest vaccination drive, all on its own. We need to do this in all aspects of life.

"Education sector is another, where my government is working tirelessly. There are now more than 50,000 new seats available for students entering college this year. The PM has given approval for 22 new AIIMS too. My government is taking some major steps to ensure the betterment of farmers. The agriculture sector is a priority for my government. I am happy to announce that my government has set new records in buying at MSP from farmers... not just that, my government has implemented the Swaminathan committee report on agri sector. Under the per drop-more crop initiative, my government is working round-the-clock to ensure better produce for our farmers," he said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Budget Session 2021 is a golden opportunity to fulfill the dreams of our freedom fighters.

Modi was addressing the media before the Presidential address of the joint session of Parliament to kick start Budget Session, 2021. The session is being held in two parts this year due to Covid-19 pandemic.

"This is the first session of this decade. It is a very important session. This is a golden opportunity to fulfill the dreams of our freedom fighters," Modi said.

The Prime Minister said the government will take every step to fulfil people's expectations and all MPs will direct their energy to this goal.

The Prime Minister said the government had to produce several mini budgets and that this budget will be in that series of three-four budgets presented by the government during pandemic period last year.

The Economic Survey will be tabled in both Houses in this 30-minute sitting after paying obituary references.

The first part of the Budget Session is scheduled to conclude on February 15 while the second part will commence on March 8 and was expected to end on April 8.

Given the Covid-19 outbreak, Parliament will sit in two shifts. Morning session is dedicated to Rajya Sabha while Lok Sabha will sit in the evening. The Rajya Sabha will sit from 9 am to 2 pm while the Lok Sabha will sit from 4 pm to 9 pm.

Zero Hour and Question Hour will be held.

All Covid-19 protocols will be followed in this session in the same lines as the Monsoon session last year.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget at 11 am on February 1.

Lok Sabha shall hold 12 sittings and during the second phase of the session, there will be 21 sittings of the House.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

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