The election witnessed rare bonhomie moments between the Treasury (ruling) and Opposition benches. Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi walked up to Birla to congratulate him and also shook hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju escorted Birla to the Speaker’s chair.

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Om Birla is the only Lok Sabha speaker after Balram Jakhar in 1985 to get two full terms.

After the customary ritual, the leaders of the Opposition took turns to congratulate Birla for his  election as the Speaker, albeit laced with a message that he will allow Opposition to speak in the new term, as they, too, represent the voice of the people. 

“We are confident that by allowing the Opposition to speak, you will do your duty of defending the Constitution of India. The government has political power but the opposition also represents the voice of India’s people. It is very important that the voice of the Opposition is allowed to be represented in this House,” Rahul Gandhi said

Also Read: ’Govt may have power but…’: Rahul Gandhi tells Om Birla after his election as Lok Sabha Speaker

Suspension of 150 Opposition Members

The opposition MPs reminded Birla the issue of ‘150 Opposition members suspended in a day’ in the previous Lok Sabha and urged him to let the voice of Opposition be heard in the House of People. 

“A lot has been done. In 5 years, you have done very good work. But when 150 of my colleagues were suspended, we were all saddened. So, it should be an effort to see that you do not think of suspension in the next 5 years. We are always ready for dialogues,” NCP-SCP MP Supriya Sule said, congratulating Birla. 

Though the NDA is the ruling alliance, the BJP couldn’t win a simple majority in the Lok Sabha on its own, unlike the previous two terms. As things stand, the numbers clearly were in favour of the NDA candidate, Om Birla.

Also Read: Om Birla Vs K Suresh today: Why INDIA bloc forced a Lok Sabha contest despite numbers stacked in NDA’s favour?

The opposition INDIA bloc has at least 236 MPs and can expect support from smaller parties and some more independents. The numbers clearly indicate that 18th Lok Sabha will witness more confrontation than past two Lok Sabhas.

“We expect that no public representative’s voice will be stifled, nor will an action like expulsion take place again. Your control is on the Opposition but it should be on the ruling side too,” said Akhilesh Yadav, the president of Samajwadi Party. 

Many other MPs from the opposition camp reminded the newly elected speaker that the character of the house has changed, while hoping that he will follow norms as laid down by the Constitution.

“You are the custodian of the house… The character of this house has changed. The ruling party (BJP) doesn’t have a majority. I hope you will allow smaller parties like ours to speak. I also hope that the government doesn’t burden you much and appoint a Deputy Speaker,” AIMIM leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi said. 

Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, the National Conference MP from Srinagar, recalled incidents like former BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri‘s communal name-calling and usage of abusive language against the then BSP MP Danish Ali are not repeated in the 18th Lok Sabha. 

“As a Speaker, you neither belong to the BJP nor do you belong to Congress. Your only party is the Constitution of India. I hope you will defend the Constitution of India. I hope like past incidents like an elected MP being called a terrorist won’t be repeated,” Mehdi said. 

Also Read: Om Birla’s Emergency reminder to Rahul Gandhi’s ’defend Constitution’ remark | Lok Sabha session banter, highlights

In response to Mehdi, Speaker Birla said that the Srinagar MP should let the term begin before making comments. He also urged Opposition MPs to avoid comments on his past tenures since it was a ‘good’ day in the house.

“Agreements and disagreements will have place in Lok Sabha, I expect government to listen to suggestions from opposition,” he said in his concluding remarks before adjourning the Lok Sabha proceedings for the day. 


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Published: 26 Jun 2024, 01:11 PM IST