16th Lok Sabha starts with rise of Modi fans in Congress ranks
It was no mean coincidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a first timer was the first one to take oath as a member of 16th Lok Sabha. He of course is the Leader of the House and thus had this honour.
If Modi’s rise to the power is reflective of the change that nation yearns for, election of 315 first time MPs (out of a total strength of 543) is indicative another level of popular expectation, an end to politics of cynicism, boycott and continued disruptions in Parliament. A whole new generation and new crop of MPs who don’t carry any baggage of the past and hopefully will take things on merit and participate in meaningful discussions, till such time their respective party whip prevails on them and forces them to take a pre-decided party line.
As the newly elected flocked to Parliament House to begin their new or renewed innings as the lawmakers, exuberance and optimism was all over in the air. The grueling electioneering in peak summer and the promises made to the electorate are all fresh in their mind and they hope to contribute their bit.
Anupriya Patel a first time MP from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh says that as an elected public representative she realises the kind of expectations people of her area have from her and she will do her best to fulfill that. “I am sure this Lok Sabha will see a new beginning. We have to get out of the cynicism and constant references to past as to how Parliament was stalled and how frequently,” she said. Anupriya has achieved what her father Sonelal Patel, founder of Apna Dal couldn’t. She aligned with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and her party won both seats it contested.
The Congress MPs, currently a demoralised lot, realise their limitations and also awkwardness of the situation whereby they don’t even qualify to be called the main opposition party and can claim position of Leader of Opposition for their leader, Malikarjuna Kharge.
But it is the growing admiration for Modi in the ranks of a dilapidated Congress, which is for now the big talking point. Shashi Tharoor’s article in Huffington Post How Narendra Modi May Have Evolved into ‘Modi 2.0’ where he sees Modi in a new avatar and his undiluted appreciation for him for Modi’s actions since 16 May is big talk in the power corridors. Tharoor is not alone. There are others also in the Congress’ bench strength of 44, who are not shying away from expressing their admiration for Modi.
Ninong Ering, a Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh is equally appreciative of Modi’s. “He is doing whole lot of thing which needs to be appreciated. I can’t criticise him just because I am in Congress party. The way he has approached North East is a very positive thing by itself. Making Kiren Rijiju a minister and placing him in the home ministry is indicative that sensitiveness in his approach to an issue and to a person. His yesterday’s meeting with secretaries of government of India and telling them to reach him directly whenever they feel like with feedback and ideas is another positive things. He has made a good beginning as PM, I don’t have any hesitation in accepting that,” Ering told Firstpost.
Should rise of Modi fans like this worry Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, is anybody’s guess.
These are early days to make a conclusion but the composition of 16th Lok Sabha suggests that it may follow a different script. That has to unfold in due course. This session is in any case just the inaugural session, oath taking by the members, election of Speaker, Presidential address to joint session of Parliament where the government would unveil the policies it intends to follow.
The number of first time MPs 315 is highest ever barring post-Emergency election in 1977 when 376 first timers had won. Also the number of re-elected MPs 171 out of 543 is one of lowest ever. Lowest number of re-elected MPs was in 6th Lok Sabha in 1977 when only 144 could win again, followed by 157 in 1980 in 7th Lok Sabha and 165 in 1989 in 9th Lok Sabha.
Not just big guns like P Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Kapil Sibal, Sharad Yadav, Lalu Prasad are not be there, some of the political parties, which have been considered prominent and influential will not have any existence. The BSP, DMK and NC no longer exist in Lok Sabha. The Rasthtriya Lok Dal, Prafulla Mahanta’s AGP, Babulal Marandi’s JVM and some other parties are also in this list.
Incidentally, if Modi’s Council of Ministers is made of substantive women power, this Lok Sabha has the highest number of women MPs. Of 543 MPs, 62 are women, up from 58 women in the previous Lok Sabha. Sumitra Mahajan, eight-time BJP MP from Indore will be elected as Speaker on 8 June. The number of Muslim MPs, 21 is lowest ever and that is a cause of concern in certain quarters.
If 86-year old BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani is the oldest member, then three MPs, Abhishek Banerjee, Dushyant Chautala and Heena Gavit are just 26, barely past the qualifying age of 25 to contest parliamentary polls.
The new Parliament, however, opens with one grim reminder that 68 bills lapsed in 15th Lok Sabha including Direct Taxes Code Bill and Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill. There are 60 bills pending in Rajya Sabha.
BJP MP Sanjay Jaiswal blames it all on previous Congress government and promises that NDA under Modi will take a leaf from Vajpayee government and will be receptive to popular concerns and opposition’s demands. That communication between the treasury benches and opposition will be re-established, he says.
Modi and Sonia greeted on the opening day of the constitution of 16th Lok Sabha. Many take that as a healthy sign.