16th Lok Sabha gets down to its business

New Delhi :  The 16th Lok Sabha settled down to its orderly business as the newly elected members took oath in a manner that reflected the linguistic and cultural diversity of the nation.

The day-long process began with the pro tem speaker Kamalnath laying down the order in which the members would be sworn in, beginning with prime minister Narendra Modi, followed by senior BJP leader L K Advani, the Congress parliamentary party leader Sonia Gandhi, the members on the panel of presiding office, the union ministers, ministers of state, and then the members from the states in the alphabetical order.

16th Lok Sabha gets down to its business

There was an atmosphere of cordiality as Modi exchanged greetings with the pro tem speaker Kamalnath, the Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, his senior party colleagues, and this pattern continued with members from all sides of the house.

The linguistic diversity was reflected with members like Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti taking the oath in Sanskrit, Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Punjabi, Sadananda Gowda in Kannada, and a host of members using their mother tongue for the process.

But a bulk of the members used Hindi and English. Interestingly, Sonia Gandhi, who is often referred to the videshi bahu of the Gandhi family, took her oath in Hindi whereas Maneka on the BJP side, referred to as the desi Gandhi bahu, took it in English.

Notably the members of the Shiv Sena took the oath in Marathi as expected, but they also referred to the late Balasaheb Thackeray, and ended it with the Jai Maharashtra slogan.

On the business side, the process of electing the 8-term Indore MP Sumitra Mahajan as the speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha remained a mere formality. Hers was the only name for the post proposed and seconded by 19 MPs cutting across party lines with Prime Minister Modi being the first proposer. The formal announcement would be on Friday afternoon.

In tune with its commanding position in the Lok Sabha and the correspondingly reduced strength of the Congress, the NDA government is not inclined to be generous to the opposition and give it both the positions –the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and that of the deputy speaker.

According to informed sources, the BJP would prefer to divide the two posts between the Congress and the AIADMK, with that of the deputy speaker going to the latter to ensure a smoother functioning of the house.

But then it is still not clarifying its stand on both these posts, and would wait for Mahajan to be formally elected the speaker, and then take a call.

Meanwhile, the Congress named former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh as its deputy leader in the Lok Sabha and also appointed the young Jyotiraditya Scindia as its chief whip. These two appointments shall strengthen the functioning of its legislative wing, given the impression that under Mallikarjun Kharge the party lacks the punch to combat a strong government.

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