The first session of the 16th Lok Sabha will commence from June 4. A decision to this effect was taken by the Union Council of Ministers at a meeting here on Thursday.
Briefing the media after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the first two days had been earmarked for swearing in the newly elected members. The Speaker’s election was scheduled for June 6. President Pranab Mukherjee will address a joint sitting of both Houses on June 9, which would mark the actual beginning of the session.
For the Rajya Sabha, the first sitting after the constitution of the new Lok Sabha will follow the Presidential Address. Both Houses will discuss and pass the motion of thanks to the Presidential Address before concluding the first phase of the session on June 11.
The government plans reconvening the session in July so that it can work on the budget in the meanwhile. The vote-on-account, passed by during the the previous regime, will last till July. The new government has to put its budget through by then.
The new members would be sworn in by pro tem speaker Kamal Nath with the assistance of a panel of three chairmen — Arjun Charan Sethi of the BJD, P A Sangma of the NPP and Biren Singh Engti of the Congress.
There is a buzz in BJP circles that senior member Sumitra Mahajan was a likely choice for the speaker’s job, though former deputy PM L K Advani and former Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi, who have been both elected to Lok Sabha, are also understood to have indicated their willingness to shoulder the responsibility.
Modi, however, may not be receptive to the idea of either of the two senior leaders becoming the speaker. “We have not zeroed in on anyone,” Naidu said when asked about the BJP choice for speakership. “We don’t want to zero in anyone.”
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister was as elusive on the issue of the recognition of a leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha in the light of the fact that no party which is opposed to the Modi government has a 10 per cent strength in the Lok Sabha. “We are studying various precedents while discussing the issue. There is still time to take that call,” he said.
The least number of women candidates have been fielded by the Congress which has given tickets to just five women contestants.