Union Budget 2019: President Kovind will address a joint sitting of both the Houses today, however, there is a strong possibility that a combative opposition may move amendments to the Motion of Thanks as has already happened twice during Modi government's tenure.
Union Budget 2019: President Ramnath Kovind will list out the achievements of the NDA government at a joint sitting of both the houses of Parliament on Thursday. As per convention, budget session, being the first session of year, starts with a Presidential address as it provides a good opportunity to the government list out its achievement for the preceding year.
However, this time President Ramnath Kovind is expected to deliver a lengthy speech that may even last longer than an hour as the government will use this opportunity to list out its achievement for its entire tenure before it goes into general election due in April-May this year.
The joint sitting of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha will take place in the historic central hall in Parliament House Complex and it is scheduled to start at 11 am. The Presidential address is expected to stretch beyond one hour after that a copy of his address will tabled in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
“Usually Presidential Address contains the achievement of the government for the previous year. However, this being an election year, the Presidential address will contain the government’s achievement for the last five years,” a senior government official told Financial Express Online.
Right of President to address and send messages to Parliament
Under article 87 of the Constitution, President is required to address a special joint session of Parliament after conclusion of every general election and also at the start of the first session of Parliament each year.
Under article 86, President has a right to address and send messages to either house of Parliament.
In fact, the NDA government had already prepared a draft of Presidential Address before the conclusion of the Winter Session 2018 that ended on January 9. It shows the government has been working as a well oiled machinery to make one final push to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s legislative agenda ahead of general elections.
The Presidential address will also contain Modi government’s achievement in key areas and its flagship programmes. According to official sources, Prime Minister Modi will participate in the debate for Motion of Thanks to Presidential Address.
Rajya Sabha twice amended motion of thanks in Modi’s tenure
Usually, motion of thanks is passed by both the houses of Parliament by a voice vote. However, Modi government had to suffer embarrassment in two consecutive years as Rajya Sabha had passed amendments to the Motion of Thanks to the Presidential address in 2015 and 2016.
Prior to that Rajya Sabha had adopted amendments only three times in its entire history – once each during the time of Indira Gandhi, V.P. Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. There is a strong possibility that opposition parties, particularly the Congress, may press for an amendment to the motion of thanks to the Presidential address over the Rafale issue.