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Forget numbers, be active in House: PM tells Oppn

Forget numbers, be active in House: PM tells Oppn

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday underscored the constructive role of the opposition in a healthy democracy as the 17th Lok Sabha began. Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament House, PM Modi said, "Every word of the opposition is valuable... The Opposition need not bother about their numbers. I hope they speak actively and participate in the house proceedings".

The opposition has been in shock after their drubbing in the national elections and is yet to hold a strategy session - customary before every session of parliament. The monsoon session started Monday with PM Modi and other members taking the oath. Over the coming days, the government will present the budget and focus on a few key bills.

"When we come to parliament, we should forget about paksh and vipaksh (government and opposition). We should think about issues with a nishpaksh (impartial) spirit and work in the larger interest of the nation," Prime Minister Modi said.

The BJP has a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha - the party won 303 seats in the national elections, a jump over its last time's score of 282 - making for smooth sailing of any bill in the lower house.

But in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, it still has a numerical disadvantage. The NDA has 102 members in the 245-seat upper house, which might affect the passing of key bills, like the bill to make triple talaq illegal, which is likely to be introduced in this session.

PM Modi reached out to the opposition Sunday as well at an all-party meeting and asked the attending leaders to "introspect whether members of parliament are able to fulfil people's aspirations as their representatives". He also thanked the leaders for their suggestions.

At the meeting, the Congress had raised the issues of unemployment, farmers' distress, drought and press freedom, while also calling for early conduct of assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi expressed satisfaction that the new Lok Sabha has a high number of women members.

Pro tem Speaker Virendra Kumar administered the oath to Modi and other newly elected members.

The first two days of the session will be devoted to oath-taking by Lok Sabha members.

The Speaker will be elected on Wednesday. The next day, at a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind will deliver his customary address. See P5

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