It's BJP's Om Birla vs Congress' K Suresh for Lok Sabha Speaker post

Earlier in the morning, Congress leader K C Venugopal and DMK's T R Baalu walked out of Defence Minister Singh's office, refusing to endorse NDA candidate Birla without being offered the deputy speaker's position.
Last Updated : 25 June 2024, 09:20 IST

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New Delhi: Treasury benches and the Opposition parties could not reach a consensus on the election of the Speaker for the 18th Lok Sabha. After BJP-led NDA decided to renominate Om Birla for the post, the I.N.D.I.A. bloc decided to field Kodikunnil Suresh as its candidate.

The numbers are stacked easily in favour of the BJP, but a contest will also dictate an election for the post of the deputy speaker, if the BJP decides to not keep the post vacant.

High drama took place at Parliament on Tuesday with intense meetings and deliberations taking place amid BJP and NDA members as well as the Opposition MPs.

Despite the BJP urging for a “consensus” on the post, the party’s non-commitment to the Opposition’s demand for the post of deputy speaker in return led to a stalemate, and eventually led to Congress fielding eight-term MP Kodikunnil Suresh.

As the day’s proceedings started, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said that union defence minister Rajnath Singh called Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge late Monday night for a consensus on the Speaker’s post.

“The entire Opposition has said that we will lend support to the Speaker’s post, but the convention is that the Deputy Speaker’s post should be given to the Opposition. This call took place on Monday night, but till now Kharge ji has not received a call back,” Gandhi said. “Modi ji talks about constructive criticism by the Opposition, but has insulted our leader.”

The NDA leaders met around 11am, following which they reached out to the Opposition. Congress’s KC Venugopal and DMK’s TR Baalu took part in the meeting. “We will contest the Speaker’s election,” Venugopal said after he stepped out of the meeting.

NDA leaders union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and union animal husbandry ministry and JDU MP Lalan Singh said that the Congress had put conditions on the support and so it was not agreeable to the BJP.

“KC Venugopal ji said that they immediately seek the support for the Deputy Speaker position as a condition to lending their support. Democracy does not run on conditions,” Singh told reporters.

“The Speaker and Deputy Speaker are of the House, the Opposition cannot dictate us. It would have been tradition of the Lok Sabha if the Speaker was elected unopposed,” Goyal added.

BJP leaders including union home minister Amit Shah, health minister JP Nadda, parliamentary affairs minister Kiren Rijiju, HAM’s Jitan Manjhi, TDP’s Rammohan naidu, LJP’s Chirag Paswan, Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel, UPPL’s Jayanta Basumatary, were present, besides Rajnath and Goyal, were present when filing Om Birla’s nominations.

However, support within the I.N.D.I.A. camp was a bit hard to come by. K Suresh’s papers were signed by the DMK, Shiv Sena (UBT faction), Samajwadi Party and NCP (Sharad Pawar faction), besides Congress.

Trinamool Congress MPs did not sign with their MPs stating that they are awaiting a directive from party supremo Mamata Banerjee. TMC sources, however, told DH that the Congress had not reached out to them.

The thaw ended when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee entered the house together after lunch. Intense discussions between the two leaders took place as members from Uttar Pradesh took oath.

Once the discussions ended, TMC leaders told reporters that an agreement was reached, and the TMC will support the I.N.D.I.A. candidate K Suresh.

Both the Congress and the BJP have now issued three-line whips for its MPs to be present. The numbers are stacked in favour of the NDA, with the Alliance having 293 – 21 above the 272 that is needed.

Senior party leaders said that they have now garnered more support and the numbers will reach 300. The I.N.D.I.A. bloc, on the other hand, has 235 MPs. They, too, could have more numbers.

Anticipating a showdown, the Congress had prepared for the fight asking Suresh to prepare the papers in advance. Suresh reached the Parliament around 10am but kept to himself the instructions from the leadership about contesting the polls.

Sources said Venugopal had told Suresh to wait till 11:50 am to file the nominations to see whether the government would have a change of heart. Kharge gave his nod for Suresh to file the papers after the negotiations with the NDA did not fructify. Shah had told the I.N.D.I.A. leaders they could discuss Deputy Speaker at a later stage.

Published 25 June 2024, 09:20 IST

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