Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 17
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first Lok Sabha member to take oath on Monday while food processing minister and Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Badal was the first woman minister and woman MP to do so.
Modi took oath amid victory chants of ‘Modi, Modi’ paving the way for his entire cabinet to follow suit. The second MP to take oath after the PM was Congress’s seniormost legislator K Suresh from Kerala.
Suresh received applause from the treasury benches for choosing to take oath in Hindi.
After Suresh, BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab took oath in Oriya, followed by members of the Union cabinet.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was the first MP to take oath in Sanskrit.
All ministers led by the PM walked across the aisle to greet opposition leaders after they took oath. These included Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
UPA chief and leader of Congress Parliamentary Party Sonia Gandhi wore a cold look as ministers took rounds to pay courtesies to the opposition leaders.
Oath-taking ceremony is under way in the Lok Sabha with pro-tem Speaker Virendra Kumar presiding over it after he was sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind in the morning.
After the ministers, the oath-taking ceremony is being held state wise.
Earlier, at the start of the first budget session of NDA 2, Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck a conciliatory note with the opposition asking the non-NDA players to shun their concern about numbers and trust that the opposition’s word is valuable for the government.
“A strong and active opposition is the sine qua non of a healthy democracy. I urge the opposition leaders to forget their concern about numbers. Every word the opposition says, every sentiment the opposition expresses is valuable to us. When we sit in the MP’s chair, we no longer represent camps. I hope we can work neutrally for national good,” Modi said in his customary start of the session address.
He said the current session would present an occasion for everyone to know the new members.
“When the new members come new hopes and new dreams also come. Indian democracy’s strength is getting revealed in every election. The highest-ever women representation and enhanced women voting marked the just-concluded election. After many decades people elected a government with full majority and with higher mandate,” the PM said seeking opposition support in realising people’s dreams.
He said the experience in the past five years had been that whenever Parliament had functioned in a healthy environment many decisions of national well-being had been taken.
“Based on this experience I hope all parties will raise the bar for debates, will help take people-friendly decisions and work with us to realise people’s aspirations,” Modi said.
Referring to his ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas slogan’, the PM said the government would work towards its pledge.
“In democracy a strong and active opposition is essential and I hope the opposition leaders will cast away the concerns of numbers. For us their words and sentiments are valuable...I hope instead of getting divided into camps we will work neutrally to further the dignity of the House and national good,” the PM said.
He said he was hopeful that Parliament’s productivity would improve and everyone would see greater collective concern for national issues.
“I urge you all MPs to lift the quality of the debate though sometimes there’s no relation between creative debate and TRPs. Credible criticism of the government is welcome,” he said.
The PM has called a meeting of political parties’ leaders on Wednesday to discuss ‘one nation one election’ and a day later he will host a dinner for all MPs.
'Ordinance route unhealthy'
Responding to Modi's comments, the Congress hoped that the trend by the BJP-led NDA government in its previous term to push key bills without legislative scrutiny using "brute majority" was reversed.
Alleging that the Modi government used Parliament as a "rubber stamp" during its previous tenure, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said: "Legislation through ordinance is a very unhealthy practice in a democracy. It should only be used in extreme cases where there is an emergency requirement otherwise the due processes of lawmaking must to be followed by the government in office". He said: "We will now wait for the Prime Minister's assurance in this regard and whether the practice that was followed in the last five years is reversed, because in the last five years what we have seen is disrespect to Parliament, where the Bills were brought by the government and because of its brute majority in the Lok Sabha, Parliament, was treated as a rubber stamp".
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