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|March 23, 1998||
Government faces first acid test
With a majority of the newly-elected members having taken their oath today, the first part of the first session of the 12th Lok Sabha is expected to be completed well before noon tomorrow.
The stage is set for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition to face its first test of strength tomorrow afternoon -- the contest for the Speaker's post, with Purno A Sangma of the Congress and G M C Balayogi of the Telugu Desam Party in the fray.
While Indrajit Gupta was sworn-in as pro-tem Speaker at Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning, three interim presiding officers -- P M Sayeed, K Pradhani, and Laxmi Narayan Pandey -- were administered their oaths soon after the House commenced its sitting.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and most of his Cabinet ministers, Leader of the Opposition Sharad Pawar and several other prominent members took their oaths today. Those who were sworn in included two former Speakers Sangma and Shivraj Patil, two former prime ministers (H D Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral), four former chief ministers (Bhajan Lal, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Abdul Ghafoor and Sudhakar Naik) and several former Union ministers.
The members -- other than the presiding officers and the council of ministers -- were administered their oaths in alphabetical order according to the name of the state they belonged to. Members from Uttar Pradesh were being sworn in as the House rose for the day.
The star attractions today were cricketer Chetan Chauhan and actor Vinod Khanna, who took his oath in the name of God in English even as his wife Kavita watched with pride from the visitors's galleries.
Former Union minister K Natwar Singh arrived a little after his name was called, and was seen pleading with the pro-tem Speaker. He was permitted to take his oath at the end of the day.
A large number of members subscribed to their oaths in their own language, while many members belonging to the BJP took the oath in Sanskrit.
Among the former ministers sworn in today were P Chidambaram, Arif Mohammed Khan, C K Jaffer Sharief, Saifuddin Soz, Girdhar Gomang, Ashok Gehlot and Ram Vilas Paswan.
Notable absentees included former Union ministers Murasoli Maran and T R Baalu, and former Union minister and Speaker Balram Jakhar.
A total of 87 members were absent when their names were called according to the alphabetical list, and those who were present at 1800 hours were given a second opportunity to take their oaths.
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