Bhartruhari Mahtab appointed pro tem Speaker of Lok Sabha

Congress accuses Modi government of bypassing convention by ignoring senior-most MP K. Suresh for the post

Updated - June 21, 2024 01:30 am IST

Published - June 20, 2024 08:49 pm IST - New Delhi

Bhartruhari Mahtab speaks in the Lok Sabha. File

Bhartruhari Mahtab speaks in the Lok Sabha. File | Photo Credit: ANI

President Droupadi Murmu has appointed Bhartruhari Mahtab, seven-term MP from Cuttack, as the pro tem Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Thursday.

But Opposition leaders questioned the Narendra Modi government for ignoring the convention of giving the honour to the senior-most member and eight-term MP Kodikunnil Suresh of the Congress.

“President is pleased to appoint Shri 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,” Mr. Rijiju said in a post on X.

The newly elected members of the 18th Lok Sabha will make oath or affirmation before the pro tem Speaker. Mr. Rijiju added that Mr. Mahtab would be assisted by a panel of chairpersons comprising Mr. Suresh, DMK leader T.R. Baalu, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadyay, and BJP leaders Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste.

In a post on X, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that as per convention, the MP who has served the maximum terms is appointed pro tem Speaker for the first two days when oath is administered to all newly elected MPs.

“The seniormost MPs in the 18th Lok Sabha are Kodikunnil Suresh (INC) and Virendra Kumar (BJP), both of who are 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. Instead, a 7-term MP, Bhartruhari Mahtab has been appointed Speaker Protem. He was a Biju Janata Dal MP for 6 terms and is now a BJP MP,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Calling it the “first mistake” of the new Parliamentary Affairs Minister, the Congress’s Manickam Tagore asked, “What are the Minister’s intentions?”

“It is a matter of immense pride for our party that K Suresh, a leader from the marginalised section of society,has achieved this feat of being 8-term MP. The government should explain why it chose to overlook K Suresh, what was the factor that disqualified him from this post?” asked Congress general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal.

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha will begin on June 24, with newly elected members taking oath/affirmation until June 25. The election of Speaker is scheduled to take place on June 26.

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