Pranab Mukherjee and L K Advani on Monday led the newly-elected members of the 15th Lok Sabha in taking oath of affirmation with seniormost member of the House Manikrao Gavit presiding over the session as Protem Speaker.
Mukherjee, the Leader of the House and Advani, the Leader of Opposition, were the first to take oath and sign the 'Roll of Members' after Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary called their names.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a member of Rajya Sabha, was present in the House. Mukherjee and Advani were followed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi who took oath in Hindi and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sumitra Mahajan, who took oath in Sanskrit.
Watching the proceedings from the Speaker's enclosure were Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar, Congress leaders Keshav Rao, Rajiv Shukla and Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav. Former Member of Parliament Ramdas Athawale was also present in the special gallery.
Gavit informed the House that President Pratibha Patil had nominated senior MPs Basudeb Acharia (Communist Party of India - Marxist), Arjun Charan Sethi (Biju Janata Dal), Biren Singh Engti (Congress) and Sumitra Mahajan (BJP) to preside over the administration of oath to the members.
Gavit also informed Parliament that SP member Akhilesh Yadav had resigned from his Firozabad seat on May 21. His resignation had been accepted on May 26.
The highlight of this session, which will conclude on June 9, will be the election of a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the President's address to the joint session of Parliament and the consequent unveiling of the Congress-dominant United Progressive Alliance's agenda for governance.
Given the bitter relations between the Opposition and the Treasury benches in the previous Lok Sabha, the government has extended an olive branch to the Opposition ahead of the first session.
"The government will give full consideration to the Opposition's viewpoint," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told media persons on Monday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured "due respect" to the opposition and hoped a "new beginning" would be made in Parliament as the first day of the 15th Lok Sabha began with around 335 members taking oath.
"We will make a new beginning and Parliament will be allowed to run smoothly -- that dialogue, discussion and reason will prevail in our proceedings. We will give all due respect to the opposition in discharging their responsibility," Singh said.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, BJP leader L K Advani and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were the first to take oath, followed by members of the Union Council of Ministers.
With the din and disruption of the previous Lok Sabha apparently weighing heavily on his mind, Singh, who is the
leader of the Rajya Sabha as well as the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), made the remarks outside Parliament ust before the first sitting of the newly-constituted House.
The President's address, customarily delivered at the first session of Parliament in the year, and also at the beginning of the first session after each general elections to the Lok Sabha, is drafted and okayed by the Cabinet, and gives important clues to the direction and working of the new government.
Union Minister and Congress' Dalit face, Meira Kumar, has emerged as the consensus candidate for the Speaker's post. She met Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday and if endorsed by the party, will become India's first Dalit woman Speaker, something that the Congress is likely to wear as a badge of honour.
The post of Deputy Speaker has been offered to the Bharatiya Janata Paty with the prime minister himself calling up senior BJP leader L K Advani to make the proposal, a convention that has been followed for a couple of decades.
On June 4, President Pratibha Patil will address the joint sitting of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha that would chart out the road map of the second term of the Manmohan Singh government, which came back to power with renewed mandate as the Congress alone secured 206 seats. The party had 145 seats in the previous House.
With pre-poll allies, the UPA is almost near the majority mark of 272 and backed by post-poll partners, the coalition strength has gone up to 322.
Towards the end of June, Parliament will convene a longer session when the new government will present the full Budget for 2009-10.