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15th Lok Sabha opens today

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

It will be a brand new Lok Sabha that will open on Monday, full of fresh young faces in the Treasury benches.

The highlight of this session, which will conclude on June 9, will be the election of a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament and the consequent unveiling of the Congress-dominant United Progressive Alliance’s agenda for governance.

The President’s address, customarily delivered at the first session of Parliament in the year, and also at the beginning of the first session after each general elections to the Lok Sabha, is drafted and okayed by the Cabinet, and gives important clues to the direction and working of the new government.

The first two days of the 15th Lok Sabha have been kept for newly elected members to take oath followed by election of the Speaker on June 3.

Union Minister and Congress’ Dalit face, Meira Kumar, has emerged as the consensus candidate for the Speaker’s post. She met Congress President Sonia Gandhi today and if endorsed by the party, will become India’s first dalit woman Speaker, something that the Congress is likely to wear as a badge of honour.

The post of Deputy Speaker has been offered to the BJP with the prime minister himself calling up senior BJP leader L K Advani to make the proposal, a convention that has been followed for a couple of decades.

On June 4, President Pratibha Patil will address the joint sitting of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha that would chart out the road map of the second term of the Manmohan Singh government, which came back to power with renewed mandate as the Congress alone secured 206 seats. The party had 145 seats in the previous House.

With pre-poll allies, the UPA is almost near the majority mark of 272 and backed by post-poll partners, the coalition strength has gone up to 322.

The first person to be administered oath will be Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee followed by Leader of Opposition L K Advani.

Given the bitter relations between the Opposition and the treasury benches in the previous Lok Sabha, the government has extended an olive branch to the Opposition ahead of the first session.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal has assured the Opposition that the government would give full consideration to its viewpoint and sought cooperation in the smooth running of Parliament.

Towards the end of June, Parliament will convene a longer session when the new government will present the full Budget for 2009-10.

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First Published: Mon, June 01 2009. 00:30 IST