The newly-elected Members of Parliament (MP) will vote to elect the Speaker of 18th Lok Sabha today on June 26.  Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Om Birla, who was the Speaker in the 17th Lok Sabha, is up against INDIA bloc leader and eight-term Congress Parliamentarian K Suresh for the crucial post. 

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The election was forced after the ruling NDA and Opposition INDIA bloc failed to arrive at a consensus for the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker post.

A Rare Election

Usually, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha is appointed with consensus between the ruling and the opposition camps. While the Speaker is from the ruling camp, the Deputy Speaker’s chair is traditionally reserved for an opposition MP to ensure a balanced House.

Also Read: BJP’s Om Birla vs Congress’ K Suresh for Lok Sabha Speaker post: Who has advantage? Numbers explained

This time too, INDIA bloc wanted to support NDA candidate if the Deputy Speaker post was given to the Opposition. But in the absence of any consensus, the Opposition decided to field K Suresh against Om Birla.

Vacant Deputy Speaker’s Chair

The Deputy Speaker’s chair was vacant in 17th Lok Sabha and second term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government. In PM Modi’s first term, the Deputy Speaker post was given to BJP’s ally AIADMK.

The Lok Sabha Speaker is elected through a simple majority.  This means that the candidate who receives more than half of the votes from the members present in the Lok Sabha at the time of voting is elected as the Speaker.

Om Birla, the  next Speaker

As things stand the numbers clearly are in favour of NDA candidate, Om Birla. The NDA has 293 MPs in the Lok Sabha. The ruling alliance is also expected to get the support of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy‘s YSR Congress Party’s four MPs taking its numbers to 297.  

The opposition INDIA bloc has at least 236 MPs and can expect support from smaller parties and some more independents.

If the numbers hold, Om Birla is set to be the only Lok Sabha speaker after Balram Jakhar in 1985 to get two full terms.

Mamata Banerjee’s TMC is part of INDIA bloc, but has not yet confirmed whether or not its 29 MPs will vote for K Suresh or not. That TMC will vote for Om Birla, seems unlikely. 

A Stronger Opposition 

Despite numbers against it, the INDIA bloc has forced an election for the post of Speaker.  Most Opposition parties, have issued whips to ensure there is no absenteeism.

Also Read: BJP’s Om Birla vs Congress’ Kodikunnil Suresh for Lok Sabha Speaker election today: What’s expected? Key things to know

Not that the Opposition doesn’t know that Om Birla will win. But buoyed by its numbers, the INDIA bloc wants to send out a message. Unlike past two terms, in which the BJP enjoyed single-party majority in Lok Sabha, PM Modi-led government in its third term depends on it’s allies. 

The Congress led opposition, with Rahul Gandhi as the leader of the house, has strongest presence in the house in last ten years. Gandhi was appointed leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha on June 25 

Confrontational Proceedings

The opposition’s move is an indicative of how the 18th Lok Sabha is going to be. Unlike the past two Lok Sabhas, this one will be confrontational with very less chance of consensus between the ruling and opposition camps. 

Also Read: Lok Sabha Speaker election: Upset over ’no consultation’, TMC likely to clarify stance on K Suresh today, says report

The first session of Lok Sabha will be over next week. The real showdown is, however, expected during the Budget session of parliament scheduled next month.  

With ruling and opposition benches almost equally placed in terms of numbers, the role of Speaker in managing the Lok Sabha becomes key during sessions. 

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Published: 26 Jun 2024, 08:01 AM IST