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NEW DELHI : Revival of the economy will be the primary focus of the National Democratic Alliance government during the budget session of Parliament scheduled to begin on 29 January. The budget will be presented by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 1 February.

“The fifth session of the 17th Lok Sabha will commence on Friday, 29 January 2021. Subject to exigencies of government business, the session is likely to conclude on Thursday, 8 April 2021," according to a press note issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat on Thursday. The session will have a break from 15 February to 8 March, it said.

President Ram Nath Kovind will address both Houses of Parliament on the first day of at 11am. The economic survey could be tabled later on the same day, according to a Press Trust of India report.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to face tough questions from Opposition parties on crucial issues such as reverse migration and the job scenario. The government may also be cornered on the three controversial farm laws and the protests against them that have been going on for more than three months.

“Opposition parties have stayed away from the protests by farmers because we do not want to allow the BJP to make it a political issue. However, we will raise the issue. The Union government will have to explain the situation in Parliament," a senior Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.

Senior Opposition leaders are also keen to have a detailed debate on employment generation and the problems of reverse migration, which saw an estimated 7 million daily wagers going to their homes largely in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. Key Opposition parties are also likely to raise the issue of the border stand-off with China and seek an update on the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Some key legislation could also be taken up during the budget session. These include the Personal Data Protection Bill, for which a joint committee was set up. Key bills from last year that were referred to Parliamentary committees include the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill. Pending legislation include the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill and the Dam Safety Bill.

The Opposition is not only likely to question the government on its handling of the pandemic, but also discuss measures for the mass covid-19 vaccination drive that starts on Saturday and seek more financial assistance for states to deal with the fallout of covid-19.

Last year, the pandemic impacted parliamentary proceedings with truncated sessions, with the budget session in March and the monsoon session in September accounting for only 33 sittings, shows data from PRS Legislative Research.

The budget session will be held following strict social distancing norms and precautionary measures will be put in place for convening the session. These include holding sittings of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in different shifts and using different halls to convene the sittings.

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