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First day of 18th LS session: Country needs responsible Oppn, says PM Modi

Modi, Shah among other MPs take oath amid sloganeering by Opposition

Modi, Narendra Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media at the Parliament House complex on the first day of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha, in New Delhi, Monday, June 24, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

Archis Mohan New Delhi

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Ahead of the start of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that he hoped the Opposition would play a constructive role and stressed that people want substance, not slogans.

In his customary address to the media before the beginning of a new session, the PM said a majority is required to run a government, but consensus is extremely important to run a country. "The country does not need slogans, it needs substance. The country needs a good Opposition, a responsible Opposition," he said.

Modi said the government had constantly endeavoured to serve Maa Bharati (mother India) by achieving consensus and involving everyone to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of 1.4 billion citizens. In a swipe at the Congress, he spoke of the Emergency, which was imposed "tomorrow", that is, on June 25, calling it a "black spot" on democracy when the Constitution was "discarded”.

But the start of the 18th Lok Sabha was fractious, and the Constitution was the leitmotif of the day. Members of the Opposition INDIA bloc gathered near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the premises of Parliament and walked to Parliament displaying copies of the Constitution and raising such slogans as "Long live Constitution", "We will save Constitution", "Save our democracy", etc. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the Opposition would not allow the Constitution to be "attacked" by PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Later, INDIA bloc MPs, led by Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, who sat in the front row of the Opposition benches with his party's Faizabad MP Awadhesh Prasad, held aloft copies of the Constitution when the PM took the oath in the Lok Sabha. The PM was the first to be sworn in amid slogans of "Jai Shri Ram" raised by members of the treasury benches. When Shah came to take the oath, INDIA bloc MPs again held up copies of the Constitution. They shouted "NEET", alluding to the alleged irregularities in the holding of competitive exam National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test Undergraduate (NEET-UG), when Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan proceeded to take the oath.

The day ended with INDIA bloc MP, Revolutionary Socialist Party's NK Premachandran stating that the Opposition could field a candidate for the Speaker's election, scheduled for Wednesday, if the government does not make any effort to build a consensus on its choice for the position. However, sources in the Opposition ruled out contesting the Speaker's election. They said it would be politically unwise to lay bare their numbers this early in the life of the 18th Lok Sabha.

In the morning, President Droupadi Murmu administered the oath to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha member Bhartruhari Mahtab as “Speaker pro-tem” of the 18th Lok Sabha. A seven-time MP, Mahtab administered the oath to a panel of chairpersons, including BJP's Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste. MPs K Suresh (Congress), TR Baalu (DMK) and Sudip Bandyopadhyay (TMC), who were called to take oath as they were also appointed as panel of chairpersons like Singh and Kulaste, did not turn up. The INDIA bloc has objected to Mahtab's appointment, contending that the claim of eight-term member Suresh, a Dalit leader, was overlooked.

After the PM, the newly elected Lok Sabha members among his council of ministers took the oath. After their oath, newly elected members from various states were sworn in, starting from Bishnu Pada Ray, representing the Andaman & Nicobar Islands constituency. Members took the oath in several languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Odia, Dogri, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali and Assamese. Union minister Shripad Yesso Naik, BJP MP Bansuri Swaraj, Congress' Sonipat MP Satpal Brahmachari and others took the oath in Sanskrit. BJP MP from Saran in Bihar Rajiv Pratap Rudy rued that he could not take his oath in Bhojpuri, so he took his oath in Hindi. Bhojpuri is not listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

Rest of the newly elected LS MPs will be administered the oath on Tuesday.

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First Published: Jun 24 2024 | 9:39 PM IST

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