President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday lauded the Central government for its “timely decision”, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, “that saved the lives of lakhs of citizens” and pointed out that the number of new coronavirus cases was going down rapidly in the country. Meanwhile, 16 political parties have released Joint Statement to boycott the President’s Budget Speech to protest against the Centre’s three farm laws. The first part of the session will continue till February 15. The second part of the session will be held from March 8 to April 8.

The 16 political parties urging for a boycott included Congress, NCP, J-K National Conference, DMK, AITC, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, RJD, CPI (M), CPI among others. Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu who reviewed in detail preparations for the budget session also called a meeting of leaders of all parties in the Upper House. The budget session of Parliament will begin on Friday with President Ram Nath Kovind addressing members of both the Houses seated in three different locations for the first time as part of precautions against COVID-19.

As per govt report, 144 members of Parliament will be seated in the Central Hall including the council of ministers, chairpersons of various committees of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, leaders of different parties and groups in both the Houses and former PMs. The remaining members of Parliament will be seated in the chambers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as per the COVID-induced physical distancing norms.

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will table the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on Friday, two days before the Union Budget is presented during the budget session of Parliament.