15th Lok Sabha starts, PM hopes for ‘new beginning’ (Afternoon Lead)June 1st, 2009 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) The first session of the 15th Lok Sabha began Monday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hoping it will herald a “new beginning” as the newly elected MPs took the oath in different languages reflecting the linguistic diversity of India.
The oath taking ceremony of 543 MPs will continue for two days before the new speaker is elected Wednesday.
President Pratibha Patil will address parliament Thursday.
“I hope we will make a new beginning - that parliament will be allowed to run smoothly, that dialogue, discussion and reason will prevail in our proceedings. And we will give all due respect to opposition in serving with responsibility,” Manmohan Singh told reporters outside parliament as he walked in.
A beaming Meira Kumar, who is to be the consensus candidate as the first woman speaker of the Lok Sabha, walked in and told waiting journalists: “Yes, I have resigned… because I have been nominated for the post of speaker.”
A five-time MP and Dalit leader, she was sworn in as the water resources minister May 22, then quit the post after the Congress core committee decided the she would become speaker.
Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee was the first MP who took oath in the house chaired by pro-tem Speaker Manikrao Gavit. Mukherjee took the oath in English.
He was followed by Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, both of whom took their oath in Hindi.
There were several empty seats in parliament as the swearing in is expected to carry on for two days. Many of the newly-elected MPs took oath in their mother tongue or language of their choice, with Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Sumitra Mahajan leading the way by doing so in Sanskrit.
She was followed by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Basudev Acharya taking oath in Bengali and Arjun Sethi of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Oriya. All three are part of the house panel.
Next the three-tier ministry comprising cabinet ministers, ministers of state with independent charge and ministers of state took the oath as MPs. The rest of the MPs started to take their oaths in alphabetical order of the states.
Outside parliament there was a near festive look as first-time MPs, dressed in their best, greeted friends old and new. Many, especially from the southern states, had brought their relatives and friends to have a glimpse of the proceedings.
Inside, there was a riot of colour with Telugu Desam MPs from Andhra Pradesh dressed in yellow and some from Kerala sporting colourful angavastram. One MP from Assam in his traditional headgear attracted a long stare from Sonia Gandhi.
The 75-year-old Gavit will chair the proceedings of the house till the new speaker is elected.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who is the Congress MP from Sivaganga, took oath in Tamil, while B.K. Handique, also of the Congress, spoke in Assamese.
Dayanidhi Maran, A. Raja and M.K. Azhagiri, all of the DMK, took oath in Tamil. Mallikarjun Kharge did so in Kannada and Pawan Kumar Bansal in Punjabi.
Minister of State for Human Resources Development (HRD) D. Purandareswari, who is a Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh, took oath in Telugu.
All the Tamil MPs, who are ministers of state, preferred their mother tongue to take the oath.
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Trinamool Congress’s Sultan Ahmed, Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal and Mohammed Ashraful Haq of the Congress took oath as MPs in the name of Allah.
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