The pandemic-hit window, already short, may shrink further if the opposition choses to have another go at the Pegasus issue in light of a news report claiming that India had bought the spyware from its Israeli manufacturer.
There is no indication that the government, which has neither confirmed nor denied the acquisition of the controversial surveillance software, will shirk from a fight, raising the prospect of a confrontation and disruptions.
A chunk of the first leg of the session will be taken up by the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address starting February 2 and ending on February 8.
With the shadow of the pandemic continuing to loom large, this Budget session will mark yet another spell in which the Parliament is having to resort to improvisations in order to ensure compliance with Covid protocols. Notably, the Zero Hour in the Upper House will be for 30 minutes as against the one hour earmarked for the period popular with MPs during which they can flag issues of their choosing.
The MPs of both Houses will be sitting in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha benches and also in the galleries.
At a meeting of Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla on the preparations for the session, the latter is learnt to have suggested that members of both Houses may be seated at separate locations, marked by name, to avoid confusion, crowding and enquiries. Naidu welcomed this and the secretary-generals of both Houses were asked to immediately reach out to the leaders of the various parties and groups and suggest them to draw lists of names of their members according to this seating arrangement. Seats have been allotted in chambers and galleries of both Houses based on the strength of parties.
The Rajya Sabha will function from 10am to 3pm, whereas the Lok Sabha will function from 4pm to 9pm except for the first two days when on Monday, the President will address both houses and on Tuesday when the Budget will be presented, sources said.