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Modi a statesman, but BJP MPs will still twist the knife in LS

* Without your support my mandate is incomplete. So I will seek your support in guidance.

* I believe if one organ of the body remains weak, the whole can’t be called healthy? We are committed to this (welfareof minorities). We don’t see it as appeasement.

* I am a newcomer in the House, forgive my mistakes.

* I am not here to criticise any government.

* We don’t believe in big brother attitude towards states; We believe in Cooperative Federalism.

* There should be competition among states for development; I want to hear states saying they have left Gujarat behind.

Those were the highlights of a highly conciliatory Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech as he spoke first in Lok Sabha and then in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. He doesn't need to push bills through on the basis of his government's impressive numbers in Lok Sabha, he said, promising to take the Opposition along in a participatory and collective style of governance.

 Modi a statesman, but BJP MPs will still twist the knife in LS

With the BJP's impressive numbers in Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has every reason to be confident.

That ties in nicely with the now growing image of Narendra Modi, described as statesmanlike and gracious, offering Sonia Gandhi a warm smile and a namaste as she took oath as MP from Rae Bareli, squeezing Rahul Gandhi's palms as he greeted the new prime minister, reaching out to even Mulayam Singh Yadav, keeping his focus on getting work done instead of petty politicking.

"Let’s work together in the first four years and do politics in the last year,” he said.

Modi can afford to be magnanimous, he has the quiet confidence of having the support of 280 other BJP MPs. But the other truth that has emerged from the Parliament debates this week are that while Modi appears to have placed himself comfortably above the din of the common trading of charges and namecalling that passed for Parliamentary debate, it's also clear that his MPs are not above it.

Not yet at least.

Not only did Rajiv Pratap Rudy say the Congress has been veritably reduced to a regional party with its 44 MPs in Lok Sabha, he went on to say the BJP's mandate is rooted in the decades of Congress misrule.

"We never imagined that we will have to welcome a national party as a regional party in this House... What prompted this to happen? Why this mandate?... People have punished you for your misrule for 65 years,” BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

He added later that if the Congress's suggestions are anything like their years of governance, the BJP would simply not accept these.

Rudy's belligerence made it amply clear that the BJP strategy is to not let MPs shy away from a war of words, regardless of how conciliatory the prime minister's tone is.

In any case, the PM's reaching out to the Opposition may not extend to the position of Leader of Opposition, the post the Congress party is angling for. A report in The Economic Times says the 16th LS may not have a Leader of Opposition at all, a situation that may pose no serious administrative hurdles whatsoever.

According to the rulebook. the largest Opposition party must have at least 10 percent of the total number of MPs in Lok Sabha, 57. With 44 MPs, the Congress falls far short. The ET report quoted a minister as pointing out that the Congress has thrice ensured that there was no Leader of the Opposition as other parties did not have the requisite number members of in Lok Sabha.

We will go by the ruling given by GV Mavlankar, the first Lok Sabha Speaker, who said that as per the rules a party should have 10 per cent of the total seats in the House to qualify for having its member as the Leader of the Opposition," another minister said.

The Congress will however get the post of the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, traditionally occupied by a member nominated by the largest opposition party in the lower House.

The stalemate over the Leader of Opposition post could continue for some time — the Congress is now proposing to write to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Of course, given that the Congress has picked Dalit face Mallikarjun Kharge as leader of the party in the LS and therefore claimant to the Leader of Opposition office, refusing to give the Congress the position could also be complicated. If the BJP's MPs protest loudly, cite past instances when the Congress made its might known in the Lok Sabha to get its way, and if it is eventually Modi who strikes the balance, let nobody be surprised.

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: Jun 12, 2014 21:22:15 IST

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