President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the joint sitting of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha marked the beginning of last Parliament session of the Narendra Modi government on Thursday. A day before acting Finance Minister Piyush Goyal presents the Interim Budget for the financial year 2019-20, President Kovind’s keynote address set the tone of the Budget Session, which is expected to witness stormy scenes. From 2016’s ‘demonetization’ to the landmark tax reform GST, the President touched upon the major works of the Modi government.
But what got maximum attention from the lawmakers was President Kovind mentioning Rafale fighter jets. “After several decades, the Indian Air Force, in the coming months, is going to further strengthen its power by incorporating the new generation of ultra-modern combat aircraft – Rafale,” President Kovind said amid loud cheers. There was a very long round of applause when the President talked about the OROP (One Rank One Pension) implementation.
Apart from this, President Kovind also spoke about the ambitious healthcare programme. “Under the world’s biggest health care scheme, ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Abhiyan’, 50 crore poor are eligible for availing treatment up to Rs 5 lakh per year per family in case of a serious illness. More than 10 lakh poor have already availed free treatment,” President Kovidn said
Goyal will present the interim budget on Friday and the government may announce a number of welfare measures aimed at various sections of society, as the ruling BJP-National Democratic Alliance readies itself for the general election, likely in April-May. The Opposition is also set to vehemently oppose any populist announcement by the government on the ground that it has no "right" to do so as its term is ending in a few months.
The Budget Session will also witness war of words as the Modi government is keen on the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to grant persecuted minorities- including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians - from a few neighbouring countries Indian citizenship.