Congress agreed to cooperate, backed out later: Kageri

Congress agreed to cooperate, backed out later: Speaker Kageri

Even Birla, when asked about the constitutional validity of his address, said there was no merit in the criticism

Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri. Credit: DH File Photo

Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri hit out at the Congress on Saturday for boycotting Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s address to the joint session of the legislature, saying it was not a new precedent as claimed. 

The Congress skipped Friday’s joint session on the grounds that there is no provision in the Constitution for a Lok Sabha Speaker to address a joint session of both Houses. 

“Om Birla’s address was discussed in the business advisory committee (BAC) and inside the House as well. I even spoke to all leaders personally. They (Congress) said they will cooperate. But, on the previous day, they said they will not come,” Kageri told reporters. 

Kageri displayed photographs to argue that Birla’s address was not new. “In June 2002, our Assembly hosted a conference of presiding officers where the then Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi delivered an address and S M Krishna was the chief minister with Venkatappa as the Assembly Speaker,” he said. 

Also read: Anti-defection law: Final call at Speakers’ conference, says Om Birla

The decision to invite Birla was based on the outcome of an all-India presiding officers’ conference held in Kevadia, Gujarat, where it was resolved to strengthen state assemblies, Kageri said. 

“In Lucknow, Birla addressed the Assembly and its members. I was there, too. The Lok Sabha Speaker has addressed the Rajasthan Assembly. Such sessions have happened in other states. Sumitra Mahajan addressed the Gujarat Assembly when she was the Lok Sabha Speaker,” he said. “So, it’s not a new tradition. And, this isn’t against the aspirations of the Constitution. If anything, it complements them. Those who are saying this was against the Constitution lack the required information,” he said. 

Even Birla, when asked about the constitutional validity of his address, said there was no merit in the criticism. “Our presidents, vice-presidents and PMs have addressed assemblies and parliaments in other countries. Several examples are there in the country also. It’s up to the Speaker to decide where the programme is held,” Birla said, on the Congress’ argument that he should have addressed lawmakers at the Vidhana Soudha banquet hall and not in the Assembly hall. 

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