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Posted at: Jun 17, 2019, 6:25 AM; last updated: Jun 17, 2019, 7:38 AM (IST)NEWS ANALYSIS

First-timers will look to leave a mark

Nearly 48% of the new lawmakers — 265 to be precise and 133 of them from the BJP — are first-time MPs
First-timers will look to leave a mark

KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16

By the middle of this week, a new session of Parliament will begin its work in earnest and almost half of its 542 elected members, who constitute the 17th Lok Sabha, are first-time entrants.

Nearly 48 per cent of the new lawmakers — 265 to be precise and 133 of them from the BJP — are newcomers. All of them have a wonderful opportunity to work towards fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of over 130 crore people, half of whom are under 25 years of age.

Starting Thursday, when President Ram Nath Kovind addresses a joint sitting of Parliament, the 17th Lok Sabha and 249th session of the Rajya Sabha would get underway. The immediate priorities of the Narendra Modi government 2.0 would find articulation in the President’s speech. 

While the government with its sheer majority in the Lok Sabha would not need support outside the BJP for passing laws and pushing forward policies and programmes, the ruling coalition will still have to negotiate and work with the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha to get parliamentary approval for key pieces of legislation. There are 10 ordinances, including the contentious triple talaq that need to be replaced with regular laws. 

While the larger goals for the MPs especially those from the ruling coalition would be set by the government itself, most of them would have to cater to constituents many of whom in the run up to voting voiced complaints against incumbent MPs for remaining less accessible.

Since policy work takes places through parliamentary processes and the Houses witness an interplay with politics, it will add to the task of the parliamentary managers in ensuring “Sabka Saath” on the three promises of the government.

The current Parliament will not have the wisdom of a former Prime Minister in either of the Houses with Dr Manmohan Singh retiring from the Rajya Sabha this month after nearly three decades. The Lok Sabha, too, would miss the presence of veterans like Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Shanta Kumar on the ruling coalition benches or the likes of Sharad Yadav and HD Deve Gowda in the Opposition.

The ruling coalition’s parliamentary managers made the right moves by reaching out to the members of the Opposition. The spirit will be on test when members of the Opposition seek to raise issues close to them. 

The combined Opposition is still to recover from the severe losses suffered in the recent elections. Yet, when the session starts, the Opposition will have to be imaginative in employing available parliamentary measures to hold the government accountable. Even though parties across the political spectrum have resorted to disruptions and stalled proceedings, these measures have a limited impact.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee has often said “Parliament is a place to debate, discuss and decide, not to disrupt”. Even in his valedictory address, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu observed this February “…I can only say obstruction of proceedings cannot be allowed to emerge as the preferred form of Parliamentary democracy our nation has just entered the 70th year of Republic. Legislatures and their honourable members should discharge their noble responsibilities. As the House of Elders, we need to lead by example.”

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