New Delhi: In a bid to reach out to Opposition parties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that an “active Opposition” is important for parliamentary democracy and assured that the government values “every word” of the Opposition whose leaders need not “bother about their numbers”. Later, Mr Modi led the new MPs in taking oath amid slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” shouted by BJP members.
Addressing the media outside Parliament before the start of the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, Mr Modi said, “The role of an active Opposition is an important perquisite in a parliamentary democracy. The Opposition need not bother about their numbers. I hope they speak actively and participate in House proceedings...Their every word...Every feeling is valuable to us.”
“When we come to Parliament, we should forget ‘paksh’ (treasury) and ‘vipaksh’ (Opposition). We should think about issues with a ‘nishpaksh’ (impartial) spirit and work in the larger interest of the nation,” he said. As the
Leader of the House, Mr Modi was the first to take oath as member of Lok Sabha.
In the previous Lok Sabha, several sessions were washed out as the Opposition and the treasury benches could not reach a meeting point.
Allaying fears of suppression of the Opposition’s voice due to the BJP’s brute majority in the House, Mr Modi said he hopes the Opposition “will speak actively and participate in House proceedings... I am hopeful that this session will be productive.”
Mr Modi also said that the new House has a high number of women MPs. “My experience suggests that when the Parliament functions smoothly, we are able to fulfil numerous aspirations of the people of India.”
Asking for support from the Opposition for smooth running of Parliament, Mr Modi said “After several decades, a government has won absolute majority for the second term. People have given us the chance to serve the country again. I request all the parties to support the decisions that are in favour of people.”
The spirit of impartiality is important and the government will try to preserve the dignity of Parliament in the next five years, he added.
The government is on an overdrive to ensure that there is bipartisan approach when it comes to passing legislation in both the Houses. On Monday, parliamentary affairs minister Prahalad Joshi along with Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar had met the Congress Parliamentary Party chief Sonia Gandhi to ensure the smooth functioning of Parliament. They also met leaders of other Opposition parties.
In the all-party meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on Sunday the government requested cooperation from all parties for the smooth functioning of both the Houses of Parliament.
Later, the Union ministers and members from 23 states and Union Territories, including Andra Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar took oath. The remaining members will take oath on Tuesday.
While the Prime Minister and most of Union ministers took oath in Hindi, Union ministers Harsh Vardhan, Sripad Naik, Ashwini Chaubey and Pratap Chandra Sarangi did so in Sanskrit.
BJP MP from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur created a controversy when she suffixed the name of her spiritual guru, Swami Purna Chetnanand Avdheshanand Giri. to hers while taking oath, drawing objections from the Opposition.
Amid protests and shouting, Ms Thakur said that it was her full name and she had already mentioned her full name in the form she had filled for oath-taking.
Amid noise and objections, pro-tem Speaker Virendra Kumar ruled that only the name written in her election certificate issued by the returning officer would go on record. Following Mr Kumar’s instruction, Ms Thakur, the Malegaon blast accused, took oath in Sanskrit and ended it with “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” slogan.
Union Ministers Babul Supriyo and Debashree Choudhury, who are from West Bengal, were greeted by fellow BJP MPs with “Jai Shri Ram” slogans when they were called to take oath as Lok Sabha members.
The cheer was apparently to take a dig at West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who had earlier allegedly objected to shouting the slogan.
The Lok Sabha at present has 542 elected members. Elections to Vellore seat in Tamil Nadu was cancelled as the Election Commission felt excessive money power was being used to lure voters in that constituency. A fresh date is yet to be announced.