The Week In Parliament

President Ram Nath Kovind has said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is moving towards building a strong, secure, prosperous and inclusive India in line with the aspirations of the people. He said the journey is inspired by the spirit of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas’. Addressing the Joint Sitting of both the Houses of Parliament — the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha – in the Central Hall of Parliament, he said, from day one, the government is committed to improving the lives of people by removing their sufferings from mis-governance and providing all the necessary facilities.

The Indian President said, people after evaluating the government’s performance in the first term, have given a stronger support for the second term in the Lok Sabha elections. He said nearly half of the MPs have been elected for the first time and the largest number of women MPs won the polls making a history. Mr. Kovind said the government’s focus is to strengthen rural India.  Stating that women empowerment is one of the highest priorities of the government, he said their effective participation in the society and its economy is the test of a developed nation. Listing the government’s initiatives, he said it has been decided to provide the Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi to every farmer in the country. He said steps have been taken in the last five years to double the farmers’ income by 2022. He lauded the government’s pension scheme for small shopkeepers and retail traders.

The President asked the MPs to consider the proposal “one nation-one election”. He also underlined the need to eradicate the practice of Triple Talaq (divorce) and ‘nikah-halala’ to ensure equal rights for every sister and daughter in the country. The over five-week long Budget Session of the government, had begun with an appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Opposition that it need not worry about its numbers in the 17th Lok Sabha. Mr. Modi said all out efforts should be made for a non-partisan approach to issues of public welfare keeping in view the country’s larger interests. He said an active and effective opposition is the necessity of a democracy. He made the remarks on the opening day of the first session of 17th Lok Sabha.

Mr. Modi said every word of the opposition is valuable. He said the results of the last month’s elections brought into limelight several new features like the highest number of voters exercising their franchise since Independence, increase in the number of women voters and a higher representation of women in Parliament. Congratulating the newly elected MPs, Prime Minister Modi said, with them comes a new hope, new aspiration and a new determination to serve the country.

Earlier, as soon as the House had met, Pro-Tem Speaker, Dr. Virendra Kumar administered the oath or affirmation to the elected MPs. Prime Minister Modi was the first to take oath. On Wednesday, the House unanimously elected Mr. Om Birla, a second time BJP MP from Kota-Bundi in Rajasthan as the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha.  The motion was moved by Prime Minister and was seconded by Union Ministers Mr. Amit Shah, Mr. Rajnath Singh and Mr. Nitin Gadkari.

Prime Minister recalled the yeoman services rendered by Mr. Birla during earth quakes in Gujarat and Uttarakhand. Later, Members irrespective of party affiliations congratulated the new Speaker. Responding to felicitations by various leaders; Speaker Mr. Birla assured the House that he would discharge his responsibilities as the Presiding Officer and sought cooperation from both the sides. Later, Mr. Modi conducted Mr. Birla to the Speaker’s podium amid chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Jai Hind. The Prime Minister also introduced his Cabinet colleagues to the House.

Script: V. Mohan Rao, Journalist