Full treasury, truncated opposition mark new Lok Sabha
New Delhi: Change seemed to be the leitmotif of the 16th Lok Sabha as it began business Thursday with a new and full treasury bench and a truncated opposition.
While Narendra Modi, in parliament for the first time, led his team on the ruling side, Congress president Sonia Gandhi sat on the front in the opposition benches after sitting in the first row of the treasury benches for a full decade.
Modi, attired in a spotless white kurta-pajama was the first one to take oath followed by BJP patriarch L.K. Advani.
However, unlike Wednesday, Advani was not seen sitting next to the prime minister this time. He was instead sitting next to senior ministers Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh in the next row.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi was the next in line to take took oath in Hindi.
Sushma Swaraj surprised many by taking oath in fluent Sanskrit, but later it was evident that BJP members had taken a conscious decision to bring the classical language back into spotlight as many more followed her lead.
Many members took oath in their mother tongue, notable among them being Shiromani Akali Dal's Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who took oath in Punjabi, Jual Oram, who took oath in Odiya, Mansukhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava who took oath in Gujarati and Sarbananda Sonowal, who took oath in Assamese reflecting the linguistic diversity of this multilingual nation.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi took oath in English. Her sister-in-law Sonia Gandhi was seen thumping the desk when she took oath.
Senior members Arjun Charan Sethi (BJD), P. A. Sangma (National People's Party) and Biren Singh Engti (Congress), appointed on the panel of chairpersons by the president to help the protem speaker in oath taking process, took oath after Modi, Advani and Gandhi.
Protem speaker Kamal Nath was the only member who had taken oath Wednesday as the house was adjourned on the first day of the new Lok Sabha following death of union minister Gopinath Munde June 3.
As soon as the house assembled, Nath welcomed all members, especially those of newly-formed states of Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh.
The 16th Lok Sabha has 315 first-time lawmakers, the highest in 30 years for any house that has 543 elected and two nominated members, according to data compiled by PRS Legislative, a research group that tracks the working of parliament.
After the oath taking of the council of ministers, MPs were called state-wise beginning alphabetically.
However, some exceptions were made especially in the case of senior members like former prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda and two former deputy speakers Karia Munda and M. Thambidurai and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The prime minister was present till the members of his council of ministers took oath. As soon as he left, many BJP members were seen leaving the house, probably for a cup of tea or some fresh air.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who seems to have taken a fancy for the back seat, was seen having a lengthy conversation with NCP's Supriya Sule.
Glamour queens of Bollywood and regional cinema including Mathura MP Hema Malini, Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher and Shatabdi Roy of the Trinamool Congress were in full attendance resplendent in their bright saris and salwar kameeze.
Gujarat MPs Devajibhai Govindbhai Fatepara and Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya were dressed in their traditional attire.