Sixth time in history, Budget first discussed in RS

The Rajya Sabha initiating the discussion on Union Budget on Wednesday marked only the sixth instance when the Budget was discussed in the Upper House first, after 2002, 1955, 1965, 1963 and 1959.

The last time the Budget was discussed in the Rajya Sabha first was in 2002 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, while the first time it happened was way back in 1955 when Jawahar Lal Nehru was the Prime Minister.

Initiating the debate on the Union Budget in the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that there should be no excuses, as the BJP has been in power for six years now. He also accused the Central government of giving all the assets to four-five big players.

Without naming anybody, Sibal said, “It’s a classic case of crony capitalism, with one big boy having footprint everywhere.”

He also accused the BJP of indulging in vote-bank politics, citing Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement to allocate chunks of highway projects to the poll-bound states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam.

After the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha too started the debate on the Union Budget with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor initiating the process.

Given the numbers in both the Houses, the government should not face any problem in passing the Budget. But it will be interesting to see which House passes the Budget first. The bone of contention between the government and the opposition seems to be the three Central farm laws, against which scores of farmers are protesting for well over two months now.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that these laws are “optional and not compulsory”. In the backdrop of the ongoing farmers’ agitation on Delhi’s borders, Modi said that “rumours are being spread that these laws are against the farmers”.

The Prime Minister also said that these laws were passed in the Parliament with a view to bring reforms in the agriculture sector, which is the need of the hour.