Prime Minister Narendra Modi today 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 disarray after their shock defeat in the national elections and is yet to hold a strategy session – customary before every session of parliament. The monsoon session started today with PM Modi and other members taking oath. Over the coming days, the government will present the budget and focus on a few key bills.Here’s your 10-point cheat sheet to this big story:

  1. “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 Narendra Modi said.
  2. The opposition has suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the ruling BJP, which scooped up more than 300 seats in the recent elections. The Congress’s tally has disqualified it yet again for the post of the Leader of the Opposition. The party, which is still contending with Rahul Gandhi’s decision to step down as the party chief, is yet to choose its leaders for the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
  3. The BJP has a huge 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.
  4. 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 passing of key bills, like the bill to make triple talaq” illegal, which is likely to be introduced in this session.
  5. PM Modi reached out to the opposition yesterday as well at an all-party meeting and asked the attending leaders to “introspect whether members of parliament are able to fulfill people’s aspirations as their representatives”. He also thanked the leaders for their suggestions.
  6. 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.
  7. The session started with President Ram Nath Kovind administering oath to the pro tem speaker, who, in turn, administered the oath to the members of the House. Oaths for the 542 members, election of the Speaker and the motion of thanks on the President’s address are likely to take up the first few days. The monsoon session of the Lok Sabha will continue till July 26.
  8. At 11 am on July 5, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget. The day before, the Economic Survey will be presented before parliament.
  9. The BJP’s lawmaker Virendra Kumar has taken oath as pro-tem speaker. Informal discussions are also likely to be held over the next few days regarding the candidate for the role of the Lok Sabha Speaker. Sumitra Mahajan, who was the Speaker for the last Lok Sabha, did not contest the Lok Sabha election.
  10. On June 19, PM Modi has invited presidents of all parties who have representatives in either house. Among other things, the meeting is meant to discuss the “one nation, one election” issue. On June 20, lawmakers of both houses are expected to have a dinner meeting, during which they would exchange views with the government.