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India: Modi calls for "consensus" at the opening of the new Parliament

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Monday à the opposition a call for "consensus" before the new Parliament elected after an electoral setback which forced him to vote. &agrav; form a coalition government for the first time in ten years.

The first session which opened on Monday and is scheduled to run until July 3, is expected to provide an overview of Mr Modi's plans for his third term and see the likely appointment of Rahul Gandhi as leader of the opposition, a post vacant since 2014.

Narendra Modi's first two terms allowed his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to pass laws through Parliament with little debates thanks to resounding electoral victories.

Now, analysts expect the 73-year-old leader to tone down his Hindu nationalist agenda to accommodate his coalition partners, with an agenda prioritizing infrastructure, social protection and economic reforms, themes that are not very divisive.

“To lead the country, consensus is of utmost importance,” Modi said in a speech to Parliament, calling on the opposition to play a constructive role.

“People expect their representatives to debate and discuss issues important to the country (…) They do not want disruption or obstruction of the parliamentary process.”

“People want substance, not slogans,” he continued.

India: Modi calls for "consensus" at the opening of the new Parliament

Alliances in the Indian Parliament elected in 2024 © AFP – STAFF

As the deputies took the oath of office, his jubilant supporters banged their tables in support while opposition members brandished the Constitution in protest.

Narendra Modi declared himself “proud to serve” India.

– “Ready to 'confront' –

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju called for a “peaceful and productive” session on Monday, but Indian media expect debates animated with much stronger opposition.

“All ready to face off,” headlined the Hindustan Times on Monday. On its front page, the Indian Express notes that “the resurgent opposition is ready to shake up the government.”

Rahul Gandhi, 54, defied expectations by allowing his Congress party to almost double the number of its representatives in Parliament, its best result in ten years.

He is the scion of a dynasty that dominated Indian politics for decades starting with the country's independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru.< /p>

Parliament's rules stipulate that the leader of the opposition must come from a party that has at least 10% of the deputies in the lower house, which has 543 seats.

India: Modi calls for "consensus" at the opening of the new Parliament

Arrival of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2nd to r) for the inaugural session of the new Parliament in New Delhi on June 24, 2024 © AFP – –

This position remained vacant for ten years, as the once-dominant Congress party had failed to reach that threshold.

The News parliamentary session begins with the two-day swearing-in of the newly elected deputies.

It will also be an opportunity to observe whether two elected MPs currently in prison, bitter opponents of Mr. Modi, will be allowed to enter Parliament.

He is Sikh separatist Amritpal Singh, an arsonist preacher arrested last year after a month-long manhunt by Punjab police , and Sheikh Abdul Rashid, a former parliamentarian from Indian-administered Kashmir.

On Wednesday the deputies will elect the president of the lower house, a strategic position. Allied parties in the ruling coalition are coveting this position, but the Prime Minister could field a candidate from his party, the BJP.

During his decade in power , Narendra Modi has aggressively promoted the Hindu faith, the majority in the country, causing concern among minorities, notably the Indian Muslim community, numbering more than 200 million people.

But his party won only 240 seats in this year's elections, 32 short of the majority in the lower house, its worst result in ten years .

The BJP therefore depends on a heterogeneous alliance with small parties to govern.

For the first time , the deputies took the oath in the new Indian Parliament building, a vast hexagonal building inaugurated last year.

The building is considered the centerpiece of the Prime Minister's remodeling of the heart of New Delhi, keen to rid the Indian capital of the vestiges of British colonization.

Opposition parties boycotted the inauguration.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116