PM hopes for fresh start

Dialogue, discussion and reason are Congress buzzwords

PM hopes for fresh start

Urging all newly-elected members to help allow Parliament to run smoothly, Singh told reporters after the first session of the 15th Lok Sabha ended with the MPs sworn-in: “I sincerely hope...dialogue, discussion and reason will prevail in our proceedings and we will give all due respect to the Opposition in discharging their responsibility.”

Around 335 MPs – more than half of the total 543 – took oath. The remaining will take oath on Tuesday. The Speaker’s election, which is expected to be a consensus in favour of Congress’ Meira Kumar, will take place on Wednesday. On June 4, President Pratibha Patil will address the joint sitting of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Her speech would chart out the roadmap of Manmohan Singh’s second term.

Among those who took oath were several former chief ministers. Karnataka’s father-son duo H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy, Delhi’s former Chief Minister Sushma Swaraj, who took oath in Sanskrit, Karnataka's N Dharam Singh (Congress), three former CMs of Jharkhand – Madhu Koda, Arjun Munda and Babulal Marandi – followed suit.
As the session got off to a pleasant start, there was bonhomie and excitement, especially for the young members. With the slurs and mudslinging of the election campaign behind them senior MPs showed courtesy to each other.

Opposition leader and BJP veteran L K Advani was one of the first to greet Manmohan Singh even before the House kicked off business at 11 am. The bitterness of the elections gave way to hugs and handshakes.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav hugged Advani, Lalu shook hands with the man who would have been the PM had the NDA won. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee took oath first, followed by Advani. Congress Parliamentary Party Leader Sonia Gandhi took oath next (in Hindi).

All the ministers who belong to the Lok Sabha, took oath next, after which the MPs, beginning with those from Arunachal Pradesh, followed. It was left to pro tem speaker Manikrao Gavit of the Congress, as the seniormost member (in terms of experience)of the House, to administer affirmation to the members.

The opposition benches sported senior leaders who are Parliament veterans. Occupying the front row were BJP’s Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Jaswant Singh, Rajnath Singh. Also seated in the front row were Samajwadi Party, the RJD  and Janata Dal (United) party presidents Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav, respectively.

Exciting day

As for the youngsters, there was a mix of excitement and joy to be part of an august gathering. In their own words, they were “excited”, “overwhelmed” and looked forward to “learn”.

Agatha Sangma, the 28-year-old, second-time NCP MP from Meghalaya, who is also the youngest on the Council of Ministers, the new House was “very exciting”. Young Congress MP from Haryana Shruti Choudhury felt privileged to be in the LS.

“It is overwhelming. It is also a great privilege and responsibility to be here,” said Choudhury, daughter of Haryana Tourism Minister Kiran Choudhury. Kalikesh Singhdeo, the BJD MP who trounced sister-in-law Sangeeta Singhdeo from Bolangir in Orissa, said: “It was challenging too, because now you will have to deliver.” 

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