Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today led India’s newly-elected lawmakers of the Lok Sabha in taking oath and asked the opposition not to worry about their sharply-dwindled numerical strength in parliament whose first session began here.
“A strong and pro-active opposition is an indispensible part of democracy. For us, every word and every thought of the opposition is important,” Modi told reporters this morning shortly before the first session of the newly-elected Lok Sabha started, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
He said the Opposition need not bother about their numbers. I hope they speak actively and participate in house proceedings.”
“When we come to Parliament, we should forget Paksh (treasury bench) and Vipaksh (opposition). We should think about issues with a ‘Nishpaksh (unbiased) spirit’ and work in the larger interest of the nation,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi said that “instead of getting divided between “Paksh” and “Vipaksh”, all lawmakers should unite in discussion in parliament about welfare measures for the people.
His remarks assume significance as Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party swept to a landslide victory in recent parliamentary elections that saw most of the opposition parties’ suffering a crushing defeat drastically bringing down their numerical presence in the Lok Sabha.
The BJP alone got 303 seats in the 543-strong Lok Sabha, improving on its tally of 282 seats secured in the previous national elections in 2014.
Modi underscored the significance of recent parliamentary poll saying that for the first time since India’s independence a national election saw the highest turnout of voters, women voters and election of the highest number of women lawmakers.
He also pointed out that it was after many decades that a party returned to power with full majority and greater majority.
The general election results this year have thrown the fragmented opposition into further disunity with the parties failing to hold the customary joint strategy session for taking on the government on a range of issues before every session of parliament.
However, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is in minority in the 245-member Rajya Sabha, upper House of parliament.
Over the coming weeks, the government will present the full-fledged budget and focus on a few key Bills including one on criminalizing the instant triple talaq.
Modi’s outreach to the opposition is important as he needs the backing of the opposition parties in passing key Bills in the Rajya Sabha.