Prime Minister Narendra Modi said views of the Opposition are important for a healthy democracy. Speaking before the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, Modi also hoped for a fruitful budget session during which the government will present the Union budget and introduce several key bills. Before the session’s commencement, BJP’s Virendra Kumar was sworn-in as the Pro Tem speaker and will conduct elections for the Speaker of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
In many ways, many things will remain the same in Parliament. The strength of the BJP, its highest ever with 303 MPs, will pale all competition, especially Congress, the next big party, with 52 MPs.
the session will see debutants like BJP president Amit Shah, terror accused Pragya Thakur, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, singer Hans Raj Hans, youngest BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, the only female MP from Kerala and firebrand Dalit leader, Ramya Haridas, short story writer and only woman MP from the Congress party in Tamil Nadu, Jothimani S, and so on.
The new parliamentary session will also be different due to absence of veterans such as BJP co-founder LK Advani, former foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, former Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, former PM Manmohan Singh (though he was not a member of Lok Sabha but of the Rajya Sabha), and Mallikarjun Kharge who was Congress leader in Lok Sabha in the last session.
On the bright side, this Lok Sabha session will make history for having the highest-ever number of female MPs — 78. And to top it off this government will see India’s first full-time female finance minister in the form of Nirmala Sitharaman (who in the previous government was appointed India’s first full-time defence minister).
On July 5, Sitharaman will present the most anticipated document in this session — Modi 2.0’s first budget for 2019-20, a day before which will be tabled India’s economic survey for the last financial year.
The BJP will hope to push several important legislations of which the ordinance on triple talaq will likely be on top priority. Apart from triple talaq, 10 other ordinances will need to be converted into law within six weeks of Parliament session that will continue till July 26.
A legislation to allow the voluntary use of Aadhaar as an identity proof for opening bank accounts and getting mobile phone connections is also likely to be tabled along with other legislations, including the Indian Medical Council (Amendment Bill), 2019 and the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill. For the moment, there is no word on whether the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be tabled in this session.
The first three days of the lower house have been earmarked for oath-taking which will be administered by pro tem speaker Virendra Kumar. On June 19, the election for the Speaker of the Lok Sabha will be held. On June 20, President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of the Parliament, and then one more on July 5, which is the budget day.
To seek cooperation of all the parties, Modi chaired an all-party meeting on Sunday. Among the subjects in the agenda was the “one nation, one election”. Modi urged his fellow Parliamentarians to begin the new session with “fresh zeal and new thinking”.