Today's Paper

Decks cleared for Manohar Joshi

NEW DELHI MAY 9. Manohar Joshi, who resigned as Minister for Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises, is all set to become the next Speaker of the Lok Sabha tomorrow, with the Opposition deciding to leave the post uncontested. Ten additional sets of nomination papers, signed mainly by the NDA constituents, were filed today in his favour.

In addition to the two sets of nomination papers filed yesterday, another set of 10 nominations were filed on Mr. Joshi's behalf. Of the two sets, the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, had proposed the first set which was seconded by the Home Minister, L.K. Advani, while the second set was proposed by the NDA convener, George Fernandes, and seconded by Yerran Naidu of the TDP.

However, in a departure from normal practice, the mainline Opposition parties — the Congress, the Left and the SP — did not propose or second any of his nomination papers. At the time of the election of the former Speaker, Balayogi, in 1999, several of his nomination papers had been proposed and seconded by the Opposition parties. In fact, one had been proposed by the Leader of the House, Mr. Vajpayee, and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi.

Though the Opposition parties have chosen not to put up a candidate against Mr. Joshi, they have also chosen to distance themselves from his election. The Congress said it had chosen to stay away because it had "no effective say in Mr. Joshi's election''. Speaking to newspersons, the Congress spokesperson, Jaipal Reddy, said Mr. Joshi was a nominee of the ruling coalition and the Congress had "no voice in their choice''.

Besides the NDA constituents, the NCP, the JD-S and the BBM (Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh) are the three Opposition parties which proposed and seconded the nomination of Mr. Joshi.

The NDA allies which supported the nominations included Mamata Banerjee and Akbor Ali Khandoker (both Trinamool Congress), Omar Abdullah and Ali Mohammed Naik (both NC), Murasoli Maran and S.S. Palanimanickam (both DMK), Sharad Yadav and Ramjivan Singh (both JD-U), Braja Kishore Tripathy and Trilochan Kanungo (both BJD), C. Krishnan (MDMK), N.T. Shanmugham (PMK) and Anant Geete and Prakash Paranjpe (both Shiv Sena).

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