As the final session of the 16th Lok Sabha wound up on Wednesday, some of the new members — 314 members of 16th Lok Sabha are first-time MPs, 165 of them of the BJP — stayed back in the House for a while after their senior colleagues had left. About two dozen of them sat on their designated seats, taking selfies or asking their colleagues to take their pictures as mementos.
Many of these members, including Union ministers Babul Supriyo and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, crowded around the Prime Minister’s empty chair. None of them wanted to sit, or pose, on it – all they wanted was to take pictures of a small plaque on the PM’s desk that Narendra Modi had mentioned in his speech barely an hour before.
Modi had stated that as far as he knows there have been 13 Prime Ministers before him, but the plaque on the PM’s desk mentions only three names. He did not mention the names, but the mention was enough to make some of his younger colleagues in the House curious.
Determined to savour every moment on the last day, most MPs on Wednesday posed for group photographs and selfies – in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue, on the lawns with the colonial circular building as backdrop, on the steps up to the entrances, in the corridors, on the fore-yards, and the Central Hall.
“Please take a shot of all the girls,” a woman MP requested a Trinamool member. The group kept increasing as more women members kept joining.
Inside Lok Sabha chamber, a little before noon, with proceedings yet to resume, Samajwadi Party member Dharmendhra Yadav, his head bandaged, sat down with uncle Mulayam Singh Yadav in the front row. NCP member Supriya Sule was requested to photograph them on Dharmendhra’s mobile. She readily obliged. A similar request followed from Congress member Shashi Tharoor. Sule was doing the needful when the hailer announced Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s arrival: “Maananiye Adhyakshji”.
Sule returned Tharoor’s cellphone and hurried to her seat.
The conduct of MPs across party lines today reflected the uncertainty ahead: getting party tickets for the Lok Sabha polls again. So BJP MPs thumped their desks when Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived, and ministers attributed every single praiseworthy action of the government to the PM. In the Opposition ranks, TMC members seemed unusually louder, with party chief Mamata Banerjee present in Parliament today.
Several members who spoke before Modi, the penultimate of the day, expressed their desire to return to the House and wished all the members luck.
Senior TMC leader Sudeep Bandyopadhyay echoed this sentiment when he said, looking at the Treasury benches, “I do not know what will happen after elections, whether they (NDA members) will come to this side or we will go that side…”
While concluding his speech, BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab hoped that when people exercise their mandate in the upcoming elections, “a new era will emerge, and that morning will definitely be for a better tomorrow”.
The frost between the Opposition and Treasury benches was, however, evident despite the odd jovial moment across the political divide. As Speaker Sumitra Mahajan concluded her remarks and declared the House adjourned for an indefinite period, not many leaders crossed the aisles to wish each other.
Among ministers, initially only Suresh Prabhu walked to shake hands with some members of the Opposition.
Barring a few MPs, including SP’s Dharmendra Yadav, almost no Opposition MP went to meet either the PM or other members of the government.
Cabinet nod to Bill to protect Indian spouses from exploitation
New Delhi: A Bill to protect Indian citizens married to non resident Indians (NRIs) from exploitation was approved in a Union Cabinet meeting after conclusion of the last session of the Lok Sabha. The Registration of Marriage of NRI Bill would allow registration of NRIs either in India or in Indian missions abroad.
The Bill will amend the Passports Act, 1967 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and “serve as a deterrent to NRIs against harassment” of their Indian spouses, a government statement said.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to revise the list of Scheduled Tribes in Chhattisgarh. —ENS