“We have said to Rajnath Singh that we will support their Speaker (candidate) but the convention is that the post of Deputy Speaker to be given to opposition…,” Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said on June 25.

Now, all eyes are on the post of Deputy Speaker, which the Opposition has been vying for since the beginning. The Lok Sabha has yet to get its deputy speaker position after it became vacant in 2019.

Why the Opposition wants Deputy Speaker post?

Most opposition leaders cited a “parliamentary tradition” to claim the Deputy Speaker’s post. “The tradition has been that if the speaker is appointed from the ruling party, then the deputy speaker is from the opposition…,” Congress leader Sachin Pilot was quoted by PTI as saying.

Congress MP KL Sharma said it is the tradition of a healthy democracy to give the Deputy Speaker post to the Opposition.

Congress MP Pramod Tiwari backed the argument, saying,”…As far as the election is concerned, when the Parliamentary traditions were disregarded, we registered our protest in a democratic manner.”

Even AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi hoped that the NDA government will “reduce” the burden of newly-elected Speaker Om Birla by having a Deputy Speaker.

How BJP reacted to Opposition’s demand for Deputy Speaker post?

Union Minister and BJP leader Pralhad Joshi said the NDA was ready to have a discussion about Deputy Speaker’s post when time to elect a person for the post arrives, but it is not right to put a precondition.

Was the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha always from the Opposition?

There was no Deputy Speaker in the 17th Lok Sabha. In 2014, AIADMK’s M. Thambidurai was appointed ass the Deputy Speaker. The AIADMK was then the ally of the NDA.

Congress leader K Suresh said, “They [BJP] denied [the post to] us in the last two terms of the Lok Sabha, saying that you are not the recognised Opposition. Now, we are recognised the Opposition. Deputy Speaker post is our right, but they are not ready to give us.”

In the last two Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and 2019, the BJP emerged as the largest party, comfortably crossing the half-way in the Lok Sabha. The Congress had then received less that one-tenth of the total seats in the Lower House (543). In the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, the BJP fell short of around 30 seats to attain the majority mark.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that during the tenures of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and PV Narasimha Rao as PM, the Deputy Speaker was an Opposition MP.

Who is a Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha?

The members of the Lok Sabha elect the Deputy Speaker amongst themselves. In the Speaker’s absence, the deputy Speaker preside over the House’s deliberations. The Deputy Speaker in India was known as Deputy President till 1947.

Why is Deputy Speaker’s post important?

A look at the role of the Deputy Speake of Lok Sabha:

1. In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker performs the duties of the Speaker as the Speaker. As per a document shared by the government, the House sits for nearly seven months in a year and each sitting lasts for about seven hours at present. This makes it difficult for the Speaker to be present in the House throughout such long sittings.

“Every now and then, when he has to attend to his other duties, he has to vacate the Chair, and in his absence it is usually the Deputy Speaker who presides over the deliberations of the House. Further, the Deputy Speaker is required to perform the duties of the Office of the Speaker, whenever that Office is vacant,” the document reads.

2. The Deputy Speaker has the same powers as the Speaker when presiding over a sitting of the House. He/she is not subordinate to the Speaker, but holds an independent position. He/she is answerable to the House alone.

3. If the Deputy Speaker is a member of a Parliamentary Committee, he/she is appointed as the Chairman of that Committee, explains the 2012 booklet in the Indian Parliament.

4. A Deputy Speaker, unlike the Speaker, can speak in the House, take part in its deliberations and vote as a member on any question before the House. He, however, can do so only when the Speaker is presiding. “When he is himself in the Chair, the Deputy Speaker cannot vote except in the event of equality of votes,” the document says.

5. The Deputy Speaker occupies the 10th place in the order of precedence along with the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Ministers of State of Union and members of the Planning Commission.

How is Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha elected?

The procedure for choosing the Deputy Speaker is the same as the Speaker, except that the Speaker fixes the date for the election of the Deputy Speaker. The election of Deputy Speaker is governed by provisions of Article 93.

Members are informed of the date of election through the Bulletin. The form of motion for choosing the Deputy Speaker is the same as for choosing the Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker holds office from the date of his election till the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. He is eligible for re-election.

Is election of Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha mandatory?

Article 93 in Constitution of India says, “The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker thereof and, so often as the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member to be Speaker or Deputy Speaker, as the case may be.”

While the Constitution lays down the rule for the election of the Deputy Speaker, reports said the usage of words such as “shall” and “as soon as may be” indicated that the election for Deputy Speaker is not mandatory.

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Published: 27 Jun 2024, 06:17 AM IST