8.48 pm: The Lok Sabha has passed the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, reports The Hindu.

8.33 pm: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has announced that the House will convene at 10 am instead of the usual 4 pm on Saturday, reports PTI.

8.31 pm: The BJP has issued a whip to all its members of the Lok Sabha for “important Legislative Business”, reports The Hindustan Times.

“All BJP members in Lok Sabha are hereby informed that some very important Legislative Business will be taken up for discussion and passing in the Lok Sabha on Saturday, the 13th February 2021,” the letter signed by BJP’s Rakesh Singh says. “All members of BJP in Lok Sabha are therefore, requested to be positively present in the House throughout the day from 10.00 a.m. onwards on Saturday, the 13th February 2021 and support the Government’s stand.”

6.07 pm: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla says the Lower House will convene at 10 am instead of the usual 4 pm on Saturday, reports The Hindu.

6.03 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party member Manoj Kishorebhai Kotak demands that over-the-top, or OTT, platforms be brought under censorship system, reported The Hindu. BJP MP Kirit Solanki seeks a ban on web and television series that are spreading obscenity.

5.58 pm: Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury seeks clarification on disengagement agreement of the Line of Actual Control, reported The Hindu. “Because of the disengagement, are we letting go any advantage that we earlier had?” he asks.

Chowdhury asks what measures were taken on the Chinese Army entering 18 kilometers into Depsang. The Speaker tells the Congress leader to give a notice to take up the matter.

5.56 pm: Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar says 46 cities have been given Rs 50 crore each to combat air pollution, reported The Hindu.

5.08 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha MP Sanjay Jaiswal moves Privilege Motion notice against Congress MP Rahul Gandhi for “serious breach of privilege and contempt of the House” on February 11, reports India Today.

3.20 pm: The Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till March 8.

3.14 pm: With this, Sitharaman concludes her speech.

3.13 pm: “Chidambaram says that this Budget is by the rich and for the rich,” Sitharaman adds. “But like I said in the beginning, roads electricity and direct cash transfers do not go to the rich, they go to the poor whose cause Prime Minister Narendra Modi champions.”

3.07 pm: Sitharaman responds to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s allegation that “major numbers are suspect in the Budget” by highlighting three instances in the 2007-’08 Budget presented by the Congress leader, where numbers were allegedly suspect.

3.03 pm: Sitharaman reiterates that the Budget is for an “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. “We respect the honest taxpayer and properly utilise their money,” she adds. “We clearly show the money we are spending.”

3 pm: The finance minister says the Centre has removed “all the ills” out of MNREGA and has used it effectively. “In 2020-21, we gave Rs. 61,000 crores before the pandemic hit,” Sitharam adds. “Now it is more than Rs. 90,000 crore- the highest ever allocation.”

Sitharaman says the Opposition alleges that the government did not meet the Budgetary estimate for MNREGA. But the estimate of 73,000 crore is higher than last year, she says.

Also read:

Budget: Centre allocates Rs 73,000 crore to MGNREGA – 34% less than revised estimate for 2020-’21

2.55 pm: Sitharaman says the Opposition should engage in a “less emotional, but a more factual debate” on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

2.50 pm: The finance minister says that many newspapers have hailed the Centre’s disinvestment policies as a bold move.

2.49 pm: Sitharaman hits out at the Congress for taking credit for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. “You may have given birth to the scheme but you left it in a mess,” the finance minister says.

2.47 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says the main features of the Budget are infrastructure creation, continuing reforms and ensuring transparency of accounts.

2.40 pm: The Union Budget 2021 was an attempt to provide a “strong stimulus” to deal with the impact of the coronavirus crisis, Sitharaman says. In doing so not only quick short term solutions were created, “we also looked at medium, long term and sustainable growth that will help us remain one of the fastest growing economies,” the finance minister adds.

2.36 pm: The finance minister says that the reforms that the government is introducing will bring sustained growth. “The relief and succor that was so required for the people was provided in the Budget,” she adds.

2.32 pm: Sitharaman says there is “credible proof” for who this government is working for.

2.29 pm: “It is worth mentioning that 800 million people were provided free foodgrains, free cooking gas provided for 80 million people and cash directly was given to 400 million people, farmers, women, divyang and also the poor and needy,” Sitharaman continues.

2.26 pm: “Nine crore people registered under the PM Fasal Bima Yojana,” the finance minister says. “These are not big farmers. So, who benefited from this? Damad?”

2.25 pm: Uproar ensues in the Rajya Sabha after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman takes a veiled dig on the Congress, saying the Narendra Modi government’s policies are aimed at helping the poor and farmers and not the “damads [son-in-laws]” of this country. She was alluding to Priyanka Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra.

2.22 pm: The finance minister is now listing out the policies of the government that are aimed at rural development, with a special thrust on small farmers.

2.21 pm: Sitharaman says the Opposition “unthinkingly keeps throwing allegations at the government” and was creating a false narrative around the Budget. “In spite of what we are doing for the poor, a false narrative is being created that this government works only for cronies,” the finance minister adds.

2.20 pm: The finance minister hits out at the Opposition for doubting the Centre’s intentions and accusing the government of working for the interests of “crony capitalists”.

2.18 pm: Sitharaman says her Budget is one which clearly draws on the experience, the administrative capacities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

2.13 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman begins her speech in the Rajya Sabha by saying that this year’s Budget focuses on building a self-reliant India.

2.04 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Syed Zafar Islam congratulates the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for delivering an accomplished Budget, reports The Hindu. “It as the worst time to present a Budget,” he adds. There were a lot of problems to tackle. Nirmala Sitharaman exceeded the promises made in this year’s Budget.”

1.58 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi announces his resignation from the Rajya Sabha, reports ANI. “It feels unnatural for me to sit quietly when there is so much violence in my state,” he tells the House. “I am part of a party and so bound by party discipline. I feel suffocated.”

12.43 pm: Former Prime Minister HD Devegowda of Janata Dal (Secular) criticises government for Budget cut in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, reports The Hindu.

“The general direction of the Budget is to withdraw the support for the agricultural sector,” he says.

12.42 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Abir Ranjan Biswas says Budget allows for “unbridled growth of corporates”, reports The Hindu.

10.59 am: Union minister Piyush Goyal informs the Rajya Sabha that there have been no deaths due to train accidents in nearly 22 months, ANI reports

10.52 am: Thakur elaborates on the Centre’s efforts to boost the economy. “There has been a 34.4% increase in capital expenditure in this Budget,” he says, according to The Hindu.

The minister adds: “India was among the five most fragile and worst economies in the world when we [the BJP] came to power, but under the Narendra Modi government, India is among the top six economies in the world.”

10.50 am: Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur hits out at the Opposition over the farming laws, ANI reports. “I challenge Congress and Opposition leaders to show where is it written that Mandi and Minimum Support Price system will end,” he says. “We are committed to taking India forward.”

10.44 am: The Congress picks Mallikarjun Kharge to be the next leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha after Ghulam Nabi Azad’s exit, say reports.

10.40 am: Union minister Anurag Thakur says in the Rajya Sabha that the 2021 Budget sets India on the path of becoming an economic powerhouse, ANI reports. “This Budget shows a hope to build new India, a stronger India and to build a self-reliant India,” he adds.

9.19 pm: First leg of the Budget session will conclude on Friday with an extended sitting of the Rajya Sabha, scheduled till 3 pm, reports The Hindu. The House will sit again for the second leg on March 8.

9.13 am: Trinamool Congress MP Abir Ranjan Biswas gives Zero Hour Notice in Rajya Sabha over the “sale of public sector undertakings”, reports ANI.

9.12 am: BJP MP Deepak Prakash gives Zero Hour Notice in Rajya Sabha over “non-implementation of welfare schemes of Central government by the state governments”, reports ANI.

9.11 am: RJD MP Manoj Kumar Jha has gives Zero Hour Notice in Rajya Sabha over “alleged fudging and manipulation of Covid-19 testing data in Bihar”, reports ANI.

9.09 am: Rajya Sabha proceedings begin. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to reply in the House on the discussion on Union Budget, reports ANI. She will speak at 2 pm, The Hindu reports.

Here are the top updates from Thursday

  • The Lok Sabha witnessed an uproar as Congress MP Rahul Gandhi criticised the new farm laws. He said the intent of the first legislation was to “end mandis” and that the country was being run by “hum do, humare do (we two, ours two)” policy.
  • Congress MP P Chidambaram criticised the Budget delivered by the Narendra Modi government, saying it was “prepared for the rich, of the rich and by the rich”. He said the Centre has not done enough for the poor and migrant workers.  
  • Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gave details about the disengagement process of the forces initiated at the southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso, along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
  • Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad warned that action will be taken against those who misuse social media platforms to spread fake news and fuel violence.