From Jai Shri Ram to Allahu Akbar: How our netas took oath of duty in Lok Sabha
The preamble to the Constitution declares India a secular country. Dictionary defines "secular" as something that is not linked with religion. Yet, when newly elected Members of Parliament (MPs) took their oath of duty in the Lok Sabha on Monday and Tuesday, religious sloganeering was the standout aspect of a what used to be a mere formality till the other day.
The wordings of the oath of duty, however, gives an MP an option to swear in the name of God but slogan shouting is not part of it. For the record, here is what an MP says in the Lok Sabha while taking oath:
"I [name] having been elected (or nominated) a member of the House of the People do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India and that I will faithfully discharge the duty upon which I am about to enter."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first Lok Sabha MP to take oath of duty on Monday. He read out the words to the loud cheers and chants of "Modi-Modi" and "Bharat Mata ki jai" (victory to Mother India).
A Mamata angle in Jai Shri Ram
Many BJP members ended their oath by shouting "Bharat Mata ki jai", "Vande Mataram" and "Jai Shri Ram".
Chants of "Jai Shri Ram" filled the hall of Lok Sabha when BJP members from Bengal - Babul Supriyo and Debasree Chaudhuri - took oath. The slogan has been at the centre of a political slugfest between Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the BJP.
At one point during election campaign, at least seven persons were detained for chanting "Jai Shri Ram" slogan while Mamata Banerjee's motorcade drove by in North 24 Parganas district of Bengal.
"Jai Bangla" was another slogan raised in the Lok Sabha when Babul Supriyo and Debasree Chaudhuri took oath.
Opposition to Vande Mataram
Shafiqur Rahman Barq, the Samajwadi Party MP from Sambhal, objected to "Vande Mataram" slogan eliciting demand for an apology from the BJP members. Concluding his oath of duty, Barq said, "As far as Vande Mataram is concerned, it is against Islam we cannot follow it."
Hema Malini too joins chorus
Hema Malini, who has won from Mathura Lok Sabha seat, concluded her oath with "Radhe Radhe! Krishnam Vande, Jagat Guru."
Jai Bheem, Jai Meem and Allahu Akbar
When Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi was called by the secretary general for to take the oath, there were loud chants of Jai Shri Ram, Bharat Mata ki jai and Vande Mataram. He concluded his oath with chants forming chorus to his swearing.
But as he ended his oath, Owaisi chanted "Jai Bheem, Jai Meem and Takbeer Allahu Akbar" before finishing off with a Jai Hind slogan. Owaisi has been a vocal opponent of mandatory chanting of Vande Mataram at public functions.
Rahul Gandhi's banter with BJP members
It had become a norm for a BJP member to take oath amid chanting of Bharat Mata ki jai. Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a dig at BJP leader Arun Kumar Sagar, who ended his oath with the chant of Bharat Mata ki jai saying it twice.
Rahul Gandhi asked Sagar to raise the slogan "one more time" and repeated the barb when the next BJP member Ajay Kumar ended his oath with Bharat Mata ki jai slogan.
Ajay Kumar, Lok Sabha MP from Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, snapped back at Rahul Gandhi saying he was ready to raise the slogan again if the Congress president joined him in saying "jai" part of the "Bharat Mata ki jai."
Rahul Gandhi avoided engaging further and ended the banter saying "Jai Hind" slogan. He was joined by many other Congress leaders in it.
Pragya Thakur begins with a ruckus
Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur made her Lok Sabha debut stirring a row with her oath taking. Pragya Singh Thakur suffixed her spiritual guru's name with her saying it was her name drawing objections from the Opposition members.
She had mentioned Swami Poorna Chetnanand Avdheshananda Giri in her oath over which she had to stop mid-way twice. She completed her oath the third time after ruling from pro tem Speaker Virendra Kumar that the part which is not in election commission's certificate would not go in the official record.
Aam Aadmi Party MP from Sangrur Lok Sabha seat in Punjab, Bhagwant Mann concluded his oath with "Inquilab Zindabad" slogan. A DMK member mentioned Periyar (EV Ramasamy), Kaliangar (M Karunanidhi), Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar only to be reminded by the chair to stick to the official wordings.
Linguistic diversity on display
A large number of newly elected Lok Sabha members including PM Modi and Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah took their oath in Hindi. But many members took oath in their mother tongue or state language and some even in Sanskrit.
Union ministers Harsh Vardhan, Sripad Naik, Ashwini Chaubey and Pratap Chandra Sarangi took their oath in Sanskrit as did Pragya Singh Thakur.
Union ministers DV Sadananda Gowda and Prahlad Joshi took oath in Kannada while Harsimrat Kaur Badal took oath in Punjabi. Similarly, Arvind Ganpat Sawant, Raosaheb Patil Danbe took oath in Marathi while Jitendra Singh in Dogri.
Babul Supriyo preferred English but Debashree Choudhury went with Bangla while Rameshwar Teli took oath in Assamese.
Most of the YSR Congress Party MPs took oath in Telegu while Gopal Jee Thakur and Ashok Kumar Yadav -- BJP members from Bihar -- took oath in Maithili. This prompted Jarnardhan Singh Sigriwal, the BJP Lok Sabha MP from Maharajganj in Bihar, seeking permission to take oath in Bhojpuri. The Lok Sabha Secretary General reminded him that Bhojpuri was not in the eight schedule of the Constitution.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi took oath in English to the thunderous applause from the party colleagues. He, however, forgot to sign the register and was nudged by Rajnath Singh to do so. His mother, Sonia Gandhi took oath in Hindi and received praise from even the BJP members for doing so.
Slogans of "Jai Shri Ram" and "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" were raised even during the oath-taking ceremony in the 16th Lok Sabha. But the scale was much bigger this time. Chants of "Jai Shri Ram" were also heard in Parliament on two occasions in 2017 - first, when PM Modi came to the Lok Sabha after BJP's victory in the Uttar Pradesh state election and when President Ram Nath Kovind took oath of office in the Central Hall.