Pro-tem Speaker row likely to become first NDA-INDIA bloc flashpoint in Lok Sabha today | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Pro-tem Speaker row likely to become first NDA-INDIA bloc flashpoint in Lok Sabha today

Jun 24, 2024 08:07 AM IST

The Opposition is upset with the fact that eight-term member K Suresh, a Dalit leader, was overlooked for the temporary post.

The appointment of BJP leader Bhartuhari Mahtab as the pro-tem Speaker will likely become the first flashpoint between the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Opposition's INDIA bloc as the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha begins today.

The Opposition parties alleged that the BJP didn’t follow the tradition of appointing the most experienced member of the Lok Sabha as protem Speaker. (File Photo)
The Opposition parties alleged that the BJP didn’t follow the tradition of appointing the most experienced member of the Lok Sabha as protem Speaker. (File Photo)

On Sunday evening, parliamentary affairs minister Kiren Rijiju reached out to Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay after the INDIA bloc's decision to withdraw its members from the panel of chairpersons that will assist Mahtab in conducting the proceedings of the Lok Sabha till the election of the Speaker on Wednesday.

Bandyopadhyay, who was among the three Opposition leaders named for the panel in the Lok Sabha, told the minister that he will not be part of the committee of chairpersons.

"Met Sudip Bandyopadhyayji, leader of All India Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party. Sudip da has a long-standing Parliamentary career and he is known for his calm and dignified conduct in the Parliament. The 18th Lok Sabha will hugely benefit from his experiences," Rijiju said on X.

Mahtab, a seven-term Lok Sabha member from Cuttack, was appointed by President Droupadi Murmu as the pro-tem Speaker. Kodikunnil Suresh (Congress), T R Baalu (DMK), Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste (both BJP) and Bandyopadhyay were named for the panel.

However, the Opposition is upset with the fact that eight-term member K Suresh, a Dalit leader, was overlooked for the temporary post. The Congress claims it is a established tradition in the Lok Sabha that the senior-most MP becomes the pro-tem Speaker.

The government, however, has argued that unlike Suresh, Mahtab has had an uninterrupted run in the Lok Sabha.

Suresh lost the elections in 1998 and 2004, which makes his current term the fourth straight one in the lower house.

Before this, he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1999.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed a BJP MP was ignored for the post because of his Dalit lineage.

"If this argument is adopted, then why has Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, a BJP MP who is also in his seventh consecutive term, not been considered? Is it because he is a Dalit like Suresh," Ramesh, the AICC General Secretary incharge of Communications, posted on X on Sunday.

Also read: When House gets down to business

BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla, responding to the post, demanded that the Congress should make K Suresh the Leader of the Opposition.

"If you are so concerned about the political career of Shri Kodikunnil Suresh, I would urge you to make him the Leader of the Opposition and the CM face of the UDF for the 2026 Kerala elections. Why stress so much for a temporary position?" he said on X.

The BJP, which emerged as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha elections by winning 240 seats, is dependent on JD(U), TDP and Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena for a majority in the lower house of the Parliament.

The INDIA bloc, which unexpectedly won 234 Lok Sabha seats, is expected to corner the government over a host of issues, including the raging NEET row.

With inputs from PTI

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