Bhartruhari Mahtab appointed pro-tem Speaker of Lok Sabha, Congress says 'attempt to destroy parliamentary norms'

Veteran Congress leader Kodikkunnil Suresh along with four others were chosen to assist Mahtab in oath of newly elected MPs of the 18th Lok Sabha, which is meeting from June 24.
Last Updated : 20 June 2024, 14:39 IST

Follow Us :


New Delhi: Seven-term MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, a former BJD leader who joined BJP before Lok Sabha elections, has been chosen as Protem Speaker of the Lok Sabha till a regular Speaker is elected, defying convention of choosing the senior most MP, Kodikkunnil Suresh of Congress, for the post.

However, eight term lawmaker Suresh along with four others – DMK’s TR Baalu, BJP’s Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste and Trinamool Congress’ Sudip Bandyopadhyay – have been chosen to assist Mahtab in oath of MPs of the 18th Lok Sabha, which is meeting from June 24.

The government’s announcement was not taken kindly by the Congress as it asked the government about the factor that disqualified the Dalit MP and whether there were deeper issues influencing the decision beyond just merit and seniority.

“The President (Droupadi Murmu) is pleased to appoint Bhartruhari Mahtab, Member, Lok Sabha as Speaker Protem under Article 95(1) of the Constitution to perform the duties of Speaker till election of the Speaker,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju said in a post on ‘X’.

Suresh told DH, “The government has broken the convention. Even in 2014, it had chosen the then senior most MP from our party, Kamal Nath, as Protem Speaker. I don’t know why this convention was broken this time.”

I.N.D.I.A. bloc sources said the choice of Pro-tem Speaker indicated that the Modi government is not keen on a consensus on giving the Deputy Speaker post to the Opposition. This would leave us with “nothing but a confrontationist approach” and would even think of contesting the Speaker’s post, a senior leader said.

Mahtab will also conduct the election of the new Speaker. This potentially rules him out of the race for Speakership, as speculated in some sections.

Calling it “another attempt at destroying parliamentary norms”, Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal posted on ‘X’, “The government should explain why it chose to overlook K Suresh, what was the factor that disqualified him from this post? Are there deeper issues influencing this decision, perhaps beyond just merit and seniority?”

He said it is a matter of “immense pride” for the Congress that Suresh, “a leader from the marginalised section of society”, has achieved this feat of being an eight-term MP.

Senior Congress MP and party’s Whip in outgoing Parliament Manickam Tagore said a “senior most Dalit MP” was ignored while asking what were “intentions” of the minister in ignoring Suresh.

Responding to the announcement, Congress General Secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh said by convention, the MP who has served the maximum terms is appointed Speaker Pro-tem for the first two days when oath is administered to all newly elected MPs.

In 2014, the senior most MP Kamal Nath, who is a Congress leader, was chosen as Pro-tem Speaker while in 2019, BJP’s Virender Kumar was chosen as Pro-tem Speaker after Maneka Gandhi, the then senior most Parliamentarian, is said to have refused to take up the post. Suresh was also eligible then but the Modi government had then preferred Kumar.

In 2024 with Maneka losing the elections, both Suresh and Kumar were the senior most. However, Kumar was ineligible to become Pro-tem Speaker as he was sworn in as a minister.

Published 20 June 2024, 14:39 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us