24 Jun 2024

First Parliament Session After LS Polls To Begin Amid NEET Controversy

New Delhi: The first session of Parliament following the recent Lok Sabha elections is set to commence today, with newly-elected MPs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taking their oaths. Bhartruhari Mahtab, a BJP MP, has been sworn in as the Pro-Tem Speaker by President Droupadi Murmu. His immediate task is to call upon the Prime Minister to take his oath as a member of the House. Approximately 280 MPs will take their oaths today, while the remaining members, including Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, are scheduled to do so tomorrow.

The appointment of Bhartruhari Mahtab as Pro-Tem Speaker, a role traditionally reserved for the most senior member of parliament, has sparked controversy. The Congress party had anticipated that Kodikunnil Suresh, an eight-time MP from Kerala and a Dalit leader, would be selected for the position. The BJP's decision to appoint Mr. Mahtab instead has drawn flak from the Congress.

Election for Speaker scheduled for June 26

The election for the Lok Sabha Speaker is scheduled for June 26. Until then, the Pro-Tem Speaker will oversee the initial sessions and conduct the election for the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to announce the name of the new Speaker on Wednesday, two days after the first session of the newly-elected 18th Lok Sabha. Given the BJP's majority, their candidate for Speaker is anticipated to be elected without difficulty, at which point the role of the Pro-Tem Speaker will conclude.

NEET and NET row

In addition to the procedural aspects, the session is expected to address significant issues, including the alleged irregularities in the NEET and NET competitive exams. In response to the growing controversy, the government recently replaced National Testing Agency Director General Subodh Singh and established a seven-member panel to review the agency's operations and recommend reforms.

The government has also implemented a stringent new law aimed at curbing malpractices in competitive examinations. The law imposes severe penalties, including a maximum jail term of 10 years and fines up to Rs 1 crore for offenders. Last week, the Congress organized nationwide protests over the exam irregularities, demanding the resignation of Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has stated that he will raise this issue in parliament, aiming to hold the government accountable and ensure justice for affected students.

Murmu will address joint session on June 27

On June 27, President Droupadi Murmu will address a joint session of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, potentially outlining the government's plans for the next five years. This parliamentary session is scheduled to conclude on July 3 and will reconvene for the monsoon session on July 22.

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