The farmers' protest may dominate the Parliament proceedings this Budget session as floor leaders of various political parties raised the issue during an all-party meeting convened on Sunday by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu at his official residence in Delhi.
The government expressed concern that in this part of the session, an extensive discussion on only farm laws may not be possible. "We are ready for detailed discussion on all issues. But if the opposition parties still have apprehension on the farm bills, they should mention it in the reply to the President's motion and they will get a reply from the prime minister himself," Parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi told CNN-News18.
The assurance, however, has not convinced opposition parties. While Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma didn't say it clearly, they indicated that their party would continue to demand for discussion on farm bills.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh told CNN-News18, "We are extremely concerned about the state of affairs on farmers' issue and the government response. We will be raising this issue in Parliament."
CPI(M) leader Elamaram Kareem said, "It is a very serious matter and must be discussed. We will be giving notice for that in Rajya Sabha."
At the all-party meeting, Naidu appealed to leaders to ensure effective functioning of the House during the ongoing important Budget session. The vice president further said that the Upper House will now sit on February 13, instead of 15 Naidu as, he said, more time is needed for discussion on Motion of Thanks to President and Budget.
The Business Advisory Committee has allocated 10 hours each for reply to President's address and Budget Session.. The prime minister's reply to the motion of thanks to the President's address is likely to be held on February 8.
Sunday's meeting saw presence of various political party leaders, including former PM HD Deve Gowda, AIADMK MP Navaneethkrishnan, Keshav Rao from TRS, Vijaysai Reddy from YSR, Sanjay Singh from AAP, RCP Singh of JDU and Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi Party.
From the government, besides Joshi, MoS Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan, Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot along with chief whip Shiv Pratap Shukla were present. Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, S Jaishankar, Piyush Goyal, who are MPs of Rajya Sabha, were also present.
Anbumani Ramadoss, Sharad Pawar, Derek O'Brien Vaiko and GK Vasan were among leaders who expressed regret for not being present at the meeting.