Lok Sabha meets, adjourns over Munde’s death

June 05, 2014 - 10:16:00 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre) speaks to the media as he arrives to attend his first Parliament session in New Delhi yesterday.

New Delhi: The 16th Lok Sabha met for the first time yesterday and was adjourned for the day as a mark of respect to union minister Gopinath Munde, who died in a road accident on Tuesday.

The adjournment of the Lok Sabha was the first instance of a newly constituted house having been adjourned on the first day following the death of a sitting member.

As soon as the house assembled, pro-tem speaker Kamal Nath, who had taken oath earlier at Rashtrapati Bhavan, condoled Munde’s death.

Following this, Lok Sabha secretary general P Shreedharan tabled the list of newly-elected members as notified by the Election Commission.

Kamal Nath then asked the members whether the oath taking exercise should be taken up Thursday. As the members agreed, he postponed the exercise to Thursday and adjourned the house for the day.

“The house is being adjourned till 11am Thursday because of the sad demise of our colleague Gopinath Munde,” he said.

The house also observed a two-minute silence in the memory of Munde.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who entered the house a few minutes before the sitting commenced, walked over to the opposition benches and greeted Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other leaders with folded hands.

Modi, whose act of bowing his forehead and touching the steps of parliament May 20 before his election as the Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentary party leader was widely noticed and commented upon, sought to reach out to the opposition yesterday through his gestures.

He occupied his seat on the treasury benches in his new role as prime minister and leader of BJP parliamentary party after greeting opposition leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Earlier, BJP and National Democratic Alliance members stood up and some even thumped their desks as Modi entered the Lok Sabha. As he went along the front rows, more members stood up in their seats.

The celebratory mood in the new Lok Sabha was tinged with sadness at the loss of a member and minister.

Speaking to the media before entering the house, Modi expressed his gratitude to the citizens of the country for their decisive mandate in the Lok Sabha polls. He said his government will make all efforts to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people.

He said: “The people of India have voted in unprecedented numbers, blessed their representatives and elected the 16th Lok Sabha.”

Modi yesterday walked over to the opposition benches and greeted Sonia Gandhi and other leaders with folded hands as the members, a majority of them newcomers, assembled for the first time in the 16th Lok Sabha, but the celebratory mood was tinged with sadness at the loss of a member and minister.

As he neared the Congress benches, Congress president Sonia Gandhi walked into the house and the two leaders exchanged greetings briefly.

The 16th Lok Sabha has 315 first-time MPs in a house of 543 elected MPs, the highest for any house in the last 30 years, according to data compiled by PRS Legislative, a research body that tracks the working of parliament.

The new house also reflected the new reality — of BJP and NDA’s ascendance and Congress decimation in the polls. With only 44 members, the Congress strength is less than a fourth of its numbers in the last house.

As the proceedings began, BJP members appeared to be present in full strength but there were a few empty seats on the opposition benches.

The visitors’ gallery had only a few occupants as oath-taking of new members had been deferred by a day. BJP members felt an acute sense of loss over Munde’s demise but also had a sense of elation over the party’s first-ever full majority in the Lok Sabha.

“So many BJP members have been elected for the first time. This is a matter of happiness,” senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi told IANS.

Party MP Giriraj Singh said it was a day of happiness but there was pain in the heart over Munde’s death. “The mood would have been celebratory if he was there. Today it is not the same situation,” he said.

Former union minister B.C. Khanduri said it was nice to see treasury benches full of members of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. “The other side had sparse numbers,” he said referring to the Congress.

Congress MP and former union minister Shashi Tharoor said the members were all conscious of the tragedy of Munde’s demise.