First session of 18th Lok Sabha to begin tomorrow; Oppn to raise paper leak issue | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

First session of 18th Lok Sabha to begin tomorrow; Oppn to raise paper leak issue

Jun 23, 2024 10:23 PM IST

President Droupadi Murmu will administer the oath to BJP lawmaker Bhartruhari Mahtab as the protem Speaker of the Lok Sabha

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha, which commences under the shadow of strain between the government and the Opposition over a host of issues, will begin on Monday with the oath or affirmation by newly elected members of the Lower House including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Earlier in the day, President Droupadi Murmu will administer the oath to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Bhartruhari Mahtab as the protem Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Security personnel in front of Parliament House on June 3, 2024.(Arvind Yadav/ Hindustan Times)
Security personnel in front of Parliament House on June 3, 2024.(Arvind Yadav/ Hindustan Times)

The two-day oath ceremony will be followed by the election to pick the Lok Sabha Speaker on June 26 and President Murmu’s address to joint sitting of both the Houses on June 27. The session will conclude on July 3 and reassemble for the monsoon session on July 22.

The session is expected to see the Opposition corner the government on a bunch of issues such as price rise, food inflation, deaths on account of an unprecedented heat wave and the most recent instances of irregularities in the conduct of examinations that have made students restive and cast a shadow on the efficacy of institutions mandated to conduct examinations.

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On Friday, the CSIR-UGC-NET examination, conducted for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Lectureship (LS) and Assistant Professor posts in college and universities, was cancelled by the Centre. A day later, the National Board of Examinations (NBE) deferred the National Eligibility Entrance Test, Postgraduate (NEET PG) exam, a day before it was scheduled.

Leaders of the Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) that are part of the INDIA bloc have already indicated that they will be raising the issue that has affected millions of students.

Differences have also cropped up between the government and the Opposition on the selection of the protem speaker, after the appointment of seven-term lawmaker Bhartruhari Mahtab, who has switched sides from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to the BJP. Parliamentary affairs minister Kiren Rijiju’s clarification that the government has stuck to the rules of appointing the longest serving member with consecutive terms has failed to cut ice with the Opposition that backs the appointment of eight-term Congress MP K Suresh for the post.

Rijiju on Friday said Mahtab has had 7 uninterrupted terms as Lok Sabha member, making him eligible for the post, while Suresh lost elections in 1998 and 2004.

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Three Opposition leaders, TR Balu of the DMK, K Suresh of the Congress and Sudip Bandopadhyay of the TMC, who are in the panel to assist the protem Speaker have indicated that they may not perform their duties as a mark of protest.

The Lok Sabha proceedings will begin with the oath taking ceremony by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Leader of the House followed by the panel of chairpersons appointed by the President to assist the protem Speaker.

As per functionaries aware of the details, the election to pick the Lok Sabha Speaker will be held on Wednesday, followed by Modi introducing his council of ministers to the House.

In 2021, the Opposition had prevented the PM from introducing the ministers inducted after a reshuffle. On the first day of Parliament’s monsoon session, the Opposition began raising slogans on the rising prices of fuel and prevented the customary introduction of the ministers. This was not the first time such an event unfolded in Parliament. In 2004, the then PM Manmohan Singh was not allowed to introduce the ministers in his Cabinet in Parliament after the BJP protested the inclusion of Mohammed Taslimuddin and Lalu Prasad Yadav in the council of ministers.

Anticipating the Opposition’s aggressive stance, the government is prepared with its strategy, said a party leader. “We have reached out to them (Opposition). Last week minister Rijiju met the Congress President (Kharge) and expressed hope that the two sides will work together,” said the leader, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Although allies such as the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Telegu Desam Party (TDP) and 12 others that comprise the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have assured the BJP of unconditional support, there is a lingering worry within the party over their response to the issue of irregularities in conducting examinations.

“There is pressure on the party in Bihar...but all discussions and decisions will be taken as partners,” said a JDU leader, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

The allies are also expected to raise issues pertaining to their respective states and constituencies. Both the JDU and TDP have 28 lawmakers between them and played a key role in helping the BJP form government at the Centre for the third time even as it fell short of numbers. The two parties have been upfront about their demands for financial assistance for their respective states.

TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu has instructed his MPs to focus on raising issues pertinent to the state, including securing funds for the capital city of Amaravati and the Polavaram project. Bihar lawmakers too will raise the issue of financial aid and infrastructure support for development projects and job creation, said the JDU leader quoted above.

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