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PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi Shake Hands, Buzzes Internet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, set to be Leader of Opposition, shook hands today in parliament as they together welcomed the newly re-elected Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla, marking a fresh chapter in the 18th Lok Sabha.

Rahul Gandhi is the third member of the Gandhi family to take the post of the Leader of the Opposition. Mr Gandhi follows in the footsteps of his mother, Sonia Gandhi, who served from 1999 to 2004, and his father, Rajiv Gandhi, who was the Leader of the Opposition from 1989 to 1990.

Pro-tem Speaker Bhartruhari Mahtab declared the election results after the Opposition, which had put forward Congress MP K Suresh as its candidate, chose not to push for a vote on the motion.

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Modi and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju approached Mr Birla’s seat in the front row of the treasury benches to escort him to the Speaker’s chair. Accompanying them was Rahul Gandhi.

“It is a matter of honour that you have been elected to this chair for the second time,” PM Modi said, congratulating Mr Birla. “I congratulate you on behalf of the entire House and look forward to your guidance for the next five years. Your sweet smile keeps the entire House happy.”

“I would like to congratulate you on behalf of the entire opposition and the INDIA alliance,” said Rahul Gandhi. “You are the final arbiter of people’s voice. The government may have political power, but Opposition also represents the voice of the people. Opposition would like to assist you in your work, I am confident you will allow us to speak in House.”

The history of the Leader of the Opposition in India dates back to 1969 when Ram Suhag Singh first held the post. Since then, this role has evolved to become a cornerstone of parliamentary democracy. The Leader of the Opposition plays a key part in the appointment of key officials such as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), and members of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the Lokayukta.

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