New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday (January 31), while addressing a joint sitting of both houses at the beginning of the Budget session said that the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution "paved the way for equal development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh."

"The abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution through two-thirds majority by both the Houses of Parliament is not only historic, but it has also paved the way for equal development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh," Kovind said.

"Fast-paced development of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh, protecting its culture and traditions, transparent and honest administration and boosting the democracy, is among the priorities of my government," he added.

He earlier expressed happiness over the pace and amount of work done by the Parliament in the first session.

"I am pleased to say that in the past seven months the Parliament has set new milestones in terms of work done by it. The work done by the Parliament in the first session of this Lok Sabha is a record in the past seven decades," Kovind said.

Meanwhile, several opposition leaders, including Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, staged a protest in front of the Gandhi Statue in Parliament premises against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and proposed National Registrar of Citizens (NRC).

The leaders carried placards reading "Save India, Save Constitution" and "No to CAA, NPR, NRC" and raised slogans.

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi has said that the party MPs will listen to President Ram Nath Kovind's address to the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament while wearing black bands around their arms as a mark of protest over CAA and NRC.

The Union Budget will be presented on Saturday. The first phase of the session will conclude on February 11, while the second part of the session will begin on March 2 and end on April 3.