M A I N   N E W S

MPs back in LS with Benches swapped
Tribune News Service

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee smiles as he enters Parliament House in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee smiles as he enters Parliament House in New Delhi on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

New Delhi, June 2
The 14th Lok Sabha began its session today with newly elected MPs taking oath of affirmation and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gandhis becoming the centre of attraction.

Mr Somnath Chatterjee, who was earlier sworn in as Pro tem Speaker by President A.P.J. Kalam this morning, administered oath of affirmation to the newly elected MPs.

The exercise is expected to continue till tomorrow as a total of 541 MPs are going to take oath. By the end of the day about 300 members had taken oath or made their affirmation. The remaining members are expected to complete the process by tomorrow afternoon.

Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee was the first to take oath, followed by Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Congress President and Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

While the National Democratic Alliance MPs, including that of the BJP, occupied Opposition Benches, the United Progressive Alliance members sat on the Treasury Benches telling the tale of democracy in which the people’s mandate leads to role reversals.

Mr Vajpayee, who had for long spearheaded the Opposition onslaught as its leader, took a seat in the front row near the Bench occupied by Mr Advani.

The BJP ranks with a large number of new faces and the absence of many a stalwart, including a number of ministers in the NDA government, were seen adjusting to new political realities.

Congress ministers Sharad Pawar, Arjun Singh, Shivraj Patil, P. Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad and P.M. Sayeed were seen maintaining a low profile.

The RJD chief, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, NCP leader Pawar and DMK leader T.R. Baalu, all Union ministers, sat in the front row close to Ms Sonia Gandhi, whose son Rahul was in the third row behind her.

Used to being in the Opposition Benches for a long time, RJD leader and Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who never shied away from frontal assaults on the government on various issues, entered the House from the Opposition side much to the merriment of treasury Benches.

This prompted Mr Laloo Prasad to ask Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh how he had lost his way into the Opposition Benches. Quickly realising his gaffe, the RJD leader was seen greeting Opposition leaders while moving to the treasury Benches.

Ms Gandhi, clad in a maroon sari and who took her affirmation in Hindi to loud applause, was the cynosure of all eyes. Member after member from the Congress and its allies, including Union ministers, made it a point to greet her.

Interestingly, Mr Laxman Singh, brother of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, occupied almost the same row as earlier. Laxman had quit the Congress and joined the BJP just before the elections.

A TRS leader and Union minister Mr A. Narendra, who was a BJP member in the last Lok Sabha, this time continued to occupy the treasury Benches, having joined the TRS, spearheading the cause for a separate Telangana, ahead of poll.

Former Defence Minister and NDA convener George Fernandes chose to sit in the last row of the Opposition side.

Film personalities, cutting across party lines, were seen huddled together. Dharmendra, who won on BJP ticket from Bikaner in Rajasthan, and Jayaprada on SP ticket from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh were exchanging notes in middle rows with Vinod Khanna of the BJP.

Union Minister Sunil Dutt, who won from Mumbai, took oath amid cheers from his Congress colleagues. Besides, Mr Rahul Gandhi, in a spotless white kurta pyjama, the generation next of the Congress — Sachin Pilot, Navin Jindal, Milind Deora, Jitin Prasad, Sandip Dikshit — were seen siting in the backrows.

Mr Sachin Pilot sported a Rajasthani traditional headgear often worn by his father Rajesh Pilot, who died in an accident a few years ago.

Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia, a second-time MP and son of late Madhavrao Scindia, was seen confabulating with senior MP Suresh Kalmadi.

The place held by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav as the leader of Samajwadi Party in the Lok Sabha before he became the Chief Minister has now been entrusted to his brother Ram Gopal Yadav.

The Pro tem Speaker announced that Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had won from Mainpuri, had resigned and his resignation was accepted.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who lost from Latur in Maharashtra, had a pleasant surprise when victorious Rupa Patil Nilangekar of the BJP touched his feet shortly before the House assembled. 

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