NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indias newly elected parliament began its inaugural session Monday with lawmakers set to elect the countrys first ever woman speaker, who is also a Dalit. Veteran and first-time MPs, including 78 ministers of Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs cabinet, were sworn in by an interim speaker at the start of the brief session that ends on June 9. Singh, whose Congress party won a resounding victory in the April-May national polls, said he hoped this parliament would function properly, without the almost daily disruptions, protests and adjournments of the past. I sincerely hope we will make a new beginning, he told reporters. I hope that parliament will be allowed to run smoothly dialogue, discussion and reason will prevail in our proceedings and we will give all due respect to the opposition, he said. The highlight of the session will be the expected election of 64-year-old Meira Kumar as Indias first woman speaker. The decision to nominate Kumar was taken at a weekend meeting of the ruling Congress party. Kumar, who is a member of the low caste Dalit or untouchable community, was a career diplomat who entered politics in 1985. In the latest ballot, she was elected from the impoverished eastern state of Bihar. Kumars election is a formality given the Congress-led coalition government has the support of more than 320 MPs in the 543-seat legislature. Naming Kumar as speaker works for the Congress on several levels, according to political analyst and author Rasheed Kidwai. It helps the party position itself as pro-women. And it also projects the Congress as a party concerned about the welfare of the downtrodden, Kidwai said. Shunned by higher castes, Indias 160 million Dalits perform the lowliest occupations and are the poorest in terms of income, literacy and land.