• First session of 15th Lok Sabha begins today

    The first session of the 15th Lok Sabha begins on Monday as a resurgent Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was set to start a new innings and a humbled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it would play the role of a “constructive opposition.”

    The session will begin with the formal swearing in of the 543 newly elected MPs. Two days have been earmarked for the procedure that will be followed by the election of the Lok Sabha speaker on Wednesday and President Pratibha Patil’s address to a joint session of parliament on Thursday.

    The BJP on Sunday said it would play the role of a “constructive opposition”.

    The Congress won 206 seats, up from 145 in 2004, while the BJP got 116 as against 138 earlier. The UPA’s tally is 263.

    “We will sit in the opposition and play the role of a constructive opposition,” party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS, just ahead of an evening meeting of the party’s MPs to elect senior leader LK Advani as the opposition leader and chalk out the strategy for the parliament session.

    “Let the government do the good work as it promised, we will sit in the opposition,” BJP veteran M. Venkaiah Naidu told a TV channel.

    Meira Kumar, 64, the water resources minister in the new government, is set to be the Congress choice for the post of the Lok Sabha speaker, party sources said. 
    If elected, Meira Kumar, a Dalit and daughter of the late Jagjivan Ram, will be the first woman to preside over the lower house of parliament.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s full cabinet met on Saturday and finalised the president’s address to parliament. It is expected to focus on his government’s moves to strengthen welfare schemes and boost the economy.

    The president’s address, extensively worked on by Manmohan Singh himself, will unveil the government’s agenda for the year in tune with the policies and programmes of the Congress party and its allies.

    Soon after securing a decisive mandate, Manmohan Singh had promised a 100-day action plan for his government and he is expected to give emphasis to the UPA’s unfinished agenda.

    Among other issues that will figure prominently in the president’s address are strengthening of key social sector programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee and Bharat Nirman schemes.

    There will be a debate June 5, 8 and 9 on the president’s address after which the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, which convenes June 4, will pass a motion of thanks before adjourning.

    The budget session of parliament is likely to begin in the first week of July.
    Source: Indo-Asian News Service
    Date: New Delhi, June 01, 2009

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