Choosing Speaker a tricky issue

 The first big test in the Assembly for the AAP government will be the election of the Speaker on the day of the second sitting of the new House.

Sources in the Congress said they will vote in favour of AAP nominee only if chief minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal seeks support. There is a possibility of the Congress MLAs abstaining from the process if Kejriwal does not seek the party’s support.

“This will not bring the government down but will cause a major embarrassment to the political novices in the AAP,” said a Congress leader.

If that happens, a BJP nominee may become the Speaker as it has support of 32 and the AAP (with the one JD(U) MLA and one independent) may have support of only 30 MLAs.

A majority of the BJP MLAs who attended the Legislature Party’s meeting at the Old Secretariat on Friday afternoon favoured fielding a candidate.

“No name of the possible Speaker candidate was finalised. The decision was left to the Legislature Party’s leader and other senior leaders,” said a BJP legislator from south Delhi who attended the two-hour meeting.

Janata Dal (United) legislator Shoaib Iqbal from Matia Mahal constituency is reported to be the AAP’s preferred choice for the Speaker’s post. There is a strong possibility that BJP might field Janakpuri legislator Jagdish Mukhi for the post.

AAP sources said Kejriwal was unlikely to approach the Congress for support on election of their candidate as Speaker.

“The party is not keen on establishing a link with the Congress. We will see what to do if they do not support our candidate during election of the Speaker,” said an AAP leader.

The eight Congress legislators are likely to elect Haroon Yusuf as their Legislature Party chief within hours of the new chief minister and his cabinet takes oath.

Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, himself a legislator, said, “Any decision on the party’s moves in the House will be taken by the Legislature Party and the high command.”

Congress sources said their outside support to the AAP government does not mean automatic support for the Speaker’s election.  Mukhi, the senior most legislator in the House, will also act as the Pro-tem Speaker and administer the oath to all the legislators on the first day of the Assembly session.  According to sources in the AAP, soon after taking oath, the Kejriwal cabinet might inform Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung about its preferred date in the first week of January for the start of the Assembly session.

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