“Which way do I go?” “Which way is the House?” “Can I carry my cellphone inside?”
The 16th Lok Sabha opened its doors for the first time Wednesday and most of its members were a little confused and more than a little awed as they entered its hallowed portals.
Looking lost, first-time MP Moon Moon Sen, resplendent in a white sari with gold borders, asked, “Where do I have to go now?” The former Tollywood glamour girl didn’t have to wait long as several star-struck ‘guides’ promptly stood up to show her the way.
“Can I carry my phone inside Lok Sabha,” the BJP’s Moradabad MP Sarvesh Kumar asked a secretariat staff, who replied in the affirmative. “Do I have to switch it off,” he asked again.
His party colleague and actor Kirron Kher, who beat Congress heavyweight Pawan Kumar Bansal in Chandigarh, was seen taking the help of a Rajya Sabha official.
Young LJP leader Chirag Paswan simply followed his father Ramvilas Paswan, an eight-term MP, while singer and BJP MP Babul Supriya took the guidance of NCP member DP Tripathi’s aide.
A record 315 first-time MPs have been elected to Lok Sabha this time — many of them giant slayers coming off handsome victories. But as they scurried around trying to find their way, they looked more like excited but lost students on the first day of college. “House kya is taraf hai (is this the way to the House)?” was the refrain that was heard the most.
When they finally did make it to their seats, they used the spare time to introduce themselves to their peers. “I met hundreds of MPs and all they wanted to know was when they would be allotted their official residence,” a senior minister said.
The day also saw interesting interactions between veteran members. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi greeted each other with folded hands and exchanged smiles on the floor of the House.
The Congress president had so far avoided greeting Modi personally on public platforms.
Earlier, former union minister and protem speaker Kamal Nath met the BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu and told him, “You have taken away both my ministries.” Naidu holds the urban development and parliamentary affairs portfolios, like Nath did before him.
After 10 years of UPA rule, former minister Veerappa Moily could be forgiven for walking to the entry point close to the treasury benches, which is occupied by MPs from the ruling dispensation. He soon corrected himself and headed back to the lobby near the opposition benches.
When Modi entered the House, he was greeted with a loud thumping of desks by NDA MPs. After the House was adjourned for the day, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj walked up to the opposition benches and greeted several top leaders there.