New India parliament adjourns after minister death

NEW DELHI- The first session of India’s newly elected parliament lasted only minutes Wednesday as lawmakers immediately adjourned in a mark of respect for a government minister who died in a car crash.

The process of swearing-in the 543 members of the Lok Sabha who won their seats in India’s five-week general election was supposed to have begun on Wednesday morning.

However, it has been pushed back to Thursday as members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attend Gopinath Munde’s funeral.

Munde was killed on Tuesday morning in an accident in New Delhi, barely a week after taking up his post as rural affairs minister in new Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing cabinet.

Interim speaker Kamal Nath read a brief tribute to Munde before members then observed a two-minute silence.

“The house stands adjourned to meet tomorrow on June 5 at 11:00 am,” Nath then said.

In brief comments before he entered parliament, Modi promised to “fulfil the dreams” of the people of India who have given his party the first parliamentary majority for 30 years.

“I assure the people of this country that in the temple of democracy we will work hard to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of the common man in India,” said Modi.

It is the first time Modi has been elected to parliament, as the representative of the holy city of Varanasi.

The oath-taking process is expected to last until Friday afternoon when a vote will be held to elect a new speaker of the lower house, with veteran BJP representative Sumitra Mahajan seen as the frontrunner.

President Pranab Mukherjee is expected to address a combined session of the two houses of parliament on Monday.

Parliament is expected to be adjourned on June 11 for several weeks as the Modi government draws up a new budget.