18th Lok Sabha special session: Drama, fireworks on Day I

PM, 279 others sworn in as members of 18th Lok Sabha; Modi, Kharge spar on Emergency
Videograb of Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking his oath as a member of the House during the first day of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha, in Delhi on Monday
Videograb of Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking his oath as a member of the House during the first day of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha, in Delhi on Monday Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The opening day of the special session of the 18th Lok Sabha witnessed dramatic scenes on Monday as opposition leaders, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, waved copies of the Constitution when Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked up to take his oath as a member of the House.

Apart from Modi, several Cabinet ministers, including Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, celebrities like Kangana Ranaut and 16 from NDA ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) took their oaths. While 280 members were sworn in on Monday, the rest, including Rahul, will take their oath on Tuesday.

The country’s linguistic diversity was on display as MPs took their oaths in Sanskrit, Hindi, Dogri, Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati and Odia, apart from English.

In his pre-session remarks, Modi took a swipe at the Congress over the Emergency, calling it a black spot on democracy when the Constitution was discarded. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge was equally pungent in his response, accusing Modi of imposing an undeclared Emergency in the country in the last 10 years.

The session began on a combative note with the boycott by three Opposition MPs from a panel to assist pro-tem speaker Bhartruhari Mahtab. The Opposition was up in arms against the government for ignoring eight-term Lok Sabha member Kodikunnil Suresh for that post. President Droupadi Murmu had appointed a panel comprising K Suresh, TMC’s Sudip Bandopadhyay and DMK’s T R Baalu along with two other BJP MPs to assist Mahtab. However, the three Opposition MPs refused to be a part of the panel on Monday morning.

Most of the Congress MPs held a copy of the Constitution while taking their oath. Rahul sat along with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Ayodhya MP Awadhesh Prasad in the front row on the Opposition side.

The BJP poked the Congress with party chief J P Nadda writing to Kharge, questioning the “stoic silence” of his party on the recent hooch tragedy in Tamil Nadu. The coming days of the session are likely to see a belligerent Opposition taking on the NDA government on several issues, including the NEET-NET exam paper leak row, three criminal laws, Manipur violence and the recent train accident.

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