Opposition participation more important than numbers: PM Modi

Live Mint, June 18, 2019

  • Prime Minister says both Houses of Parliament must function smoothly to ensure the passage of key bills
  • The first day of the monsoon session saw leaders such as Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi take oath

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to opposition parties on the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament on Monday, saying that they should actively participate in House proceedings. “The opposition need not bother about their numbers. I hope they speak actively and participate in House proceedings,” Modi said.

Addressing the media before the commencement of the session , Modi said an active opposition is important in a parliamentary democracy.
This is not the first time that Modi has tried to gain the confidence of opposition parties after winning the Lok Sabha elections by a huge margin. During a meeting of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in Varanasi in May, he had said that it was the constitutional responsibility of the Union government to listen to the concerns raised by the opposition.

Modi had pointed out that it was important for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to listen to the opposition even if the opposition had just one member. Modi had also said that it was the duty of the opposition parties to try and win the trust of people.
“When we come to Parliament, we should forget paksh (treasury) and vipaksh (opposition). We should think about issues with a nishpaksh (impartial) spirit and work in the larger interest of the nation,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi said the first Parliament session of the 17th Lok Sabha is an opportunity to work for the aspirations of the people and both Houses must function smoothly to ensure the passage of many important bills.

“My experience also suggests that when Parliament functions smoothly, we are able to fulfil numerous aspirations of the people of India. I am happy that this new House has a high number of women MPs (members of Parliament),” he said.

Modi also said that the first-time MPs brought new aspirations and a determination to serve the people. Out of the 542 MPs elected in the 2019 general elections, 265 are first-time MPs, while 46 are women. “Today marks the start of the first session after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. I welcome all new MPs. With them comes new hopes, new aspirations and new determination to serve,” he said.

The first day of the session saw several leaders, including Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, take oath as members of the 17th Lok Sabha.

Gandhi, who had been a three-time member of the Lok Sabha from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh but was defeated by Union minister Smriti Irani by more than 50,000 votes this time, took oath on Monday as an MP from Wayanad, Kerala. “My 4th consecutive term as a Member of the #LokSabha begins today. Representing Wayanad, Kerala, I begin my new innings in Parliament by taking my oath this afternoon, affirming that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,” Gandhi said on Twitter after taking oath.

The session, which is scheduled to end on 26 July, will see the Lok Sabha elect a Speaker on 19 June, President Ram Nath Kovind will address both Houses on 20 June and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the budget on 5 July. Modi will hold meetings with the heads of political parties on 19 June to discuss simultaneous elections and with MPs on 20 June on the issues to be raised in the House.

This session will likely see discussions on key legislation, including the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, and the Indian Medical Council Act. Opposition parties are also likely to aim to corner the government on unemployment, farm distress, the violence in West Bengal, and assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

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