As the row over the appointment of the new Speaker Protem, Opposition sources reportedly said on Saturday that Suresh Kodikunnil, Thalikkottai Rajuthevar Baalu and Sudip Bandyopadhyay may not join the panel of chairpersons to assist Speaker Protem Bhartruhari Mahtab in administering the oath to the newly elected members of the Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, the India Express reported that the Opposition’s INDIA bloc is likely to “reject the role given to Suresh and two other Opposition MPs to assist Mahtab in administering oath to the new members”.

The reports emerge amid the NDA government and the INDIA bloc sparring on the issue of Pro-tem Speaker.

 

On June 20, President Droupadi Murmu appointed BJP MP Bhartruhari Mahtab as the Speaker Protem under Article 95(1) of the Constitution to perform the duties of Speaker till election of the Speaker.

She also appointed Congress MP Suresh Kodikunnil, DMK MP Thalikkottai Rajuthevar Baalu, TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay and BJP MPs Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste to assist Speaker Protem in “Oath/Affirmation to newly elected Members of 18th Lok Sabha till election of the Speaker”.

What’s the controversy?

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh was quick to object to the appointment of the Speaker pro-tem, highlighting that “by convention, the MP who has served the maximum terms is appointed Speaker Protem for the first two days when the oath is administered to all newly elected MPs.”

The Congress leader said the seniormost MPs in the 18th Lok Sabha are Kodikunnil Suresh (Congress) and Virendra Kumar (BJP), who are both now serving their 8th term.

“The latter is now a Union Minister and hence it was expected that Kodikunnil Suresh would be the Speaker Protem,” Ramesh said in a post on June 20.

Congress leader KC Venugopal described the overlooking of Suresh’s claim to the Pro-tem Speaker post as an attempt at “destroying parliamentary norms”.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju dismissed the claim as “misleading”. He asserted that Mahtab was the senior-most in the House as he was elected for seven uninterrupted terms to the Lok Sabha, while Suresh, though an eight-term member, was not a member in 1998 and 2004.

 

According to the news agency PTI, Suresh’s claim to the post of pro-tem speaker was overlooked as he belonged to the Dalit community.

Rijuji dismissed Suresh’s statement, saying, “I may be the first Tribal to occupy the post of Parliamentary Affairs Minister, but I won’t be intimidated by the threats and lies of Congress Party…”

“I will be bound by rules and will strictly follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji’s mantra of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas,” he said.

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Published: 22 Jun 2024, 06:40 PM IST