Opposition Forces Election For Lok Sabha Speaker Post; Claims NDA Ignored Convention

INDIA bloc has forced an election for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker and fielded Kodikunnil Suresh as its joint candidate, while accusing the ruling NDA government of ignoring convention by not giving the Deputy Speaker’s position to the opposition.

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NDA's Om Birla Vs INDIA's K Suresh: Opposition Forces Election For Lok Sabha Speaker Post; Claims NDA Ignored Convention
(L) NDA candidate Om Birla and INDIA Bloc candidate K Suresh (R). (File/ANI)

NDA’s Om Birla Vs INDIA’s K Suresh: Opposition Forces Election For Lok Sabha Speaker Post; Claims NDA Ignored ConventionNDA’s Om Birla Vs INDIA’s K Suresh: Opposition Forces Election For Lok Sabha Speaker Post; Claims NDA Ignored Convention: The opposition INDIA bloc on Tuesday forced an election for the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post by fielding Kodikunnil Suresh as its joint candidate after it accused the ruling NDA of disregarding convention of not giving the Deputy Speaker’s position to them.

Top leaders of the opposition bloc held a key meeting at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence on Tuesday night, where they discussed the strategy for Wednesday’s election.

Initial chinks were seen in the opposition camp with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) claiming that they were not consulted before fielding Suresh as the joint candidate. The TMC, however, attended the meeting at Kharge’s residence.

Floor leaders of the Congress, TMC, DMK, AAP, NCP, Shiv Sena, RJD, JMM, Samajwadi Party, CPM, CPI and RSP were among those present at Kharge’s residence.

NCP (SP) president Sharad Pawar also said he advised his allies in the INDIA bloc that Lok Sabha Speaker should be elected unopposed, but the opposition must get the Deputy Speaker’s post which has been a parliamentary convention.

The Congress has already issued a three-line whip to all its newly elected MPs to be present during the voting on Wednesday’s election.

Suresh takes on NDA’s Om Birla, who has been given a renomination by the ruling dispensation, in a rare election being held after 47 long years.

This will be the fourth time after many years that an election to the post of Speaker will be held, as the nominee is normally elected unopposed.

While elections to the Speaker’s post were common before Independence, the position of the presiding officer of the Lok Sabha has witnessed contests only three times in Independent India –“ in 1952, 1967 and 1976.

The election was forced by the opposition after the government did not give an assurance to the opposition that the post of the Deputy Speaker will be given to them.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reached out to Kharge for a consensus over the post, but the initiative failed after the pre-condition set by the opposition.

Congress leader K C Venugopal and DMK’s T R Baalu walked out of the defence minister’s office, refusing to endorse NDA candidate Birla without an assurance on the Deputy Speaker’s post.

Venugopal said the BJP refused to give a commitment on offering the Deputy Speaker’s post to the opposition, even though Union ministers Amit Shah, J P Nadda and Singh tried to persuade the opposition leaders to endorse the NDA nominee but in vain.

Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Lalan Singh accused the Congress of putting up conditions, adding the ruling alliance was willing to discuss their demand when the election for Deputy Speaker takes place.

“There can be no pressure politics,” Lalan Singh said, while Goyal said democracy cannot be run on preconditions.

Suresh, a Dalit leader and eight-time MP from Kerala, filed a set of three nominations which was supported by several allies, barring the TMC.

Earlier, Rahul Gandhi asserted that the opposition will support the government on the Lok Sabha Speaker’s choice if the convention is followed and the Deputy Speaker’s post is given to them.

Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants constructive cooperation but has not returned Kharge’s call on the demand, as promised, which amounts to an insult.

“The entire opposition has said they will support the government on the Speaker’s post, but the convention is that the post of Deputy Speaker is given to the opposition,” he said.

“While Modi ji wants constructive cooperation they are insulting our leader by not returning the call,” he told reporters.

“The intention of Modi is not clear as the post of the Deputy Speaker should be with the opposition. But Narendra Modi ji says something and does something else,” he alleged.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said this has come barely 24 hours after the prime minister called for consensus.

“Barely 24 hours after his hypocrisy-laden pravachan on consensus and cooperation the non-biological PM has made a contest for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker inevitable.

“Convention has been that the Speaker is elected unanimously and the Deputy Speaker’s post goes to the Opposition,” he said in a post on X.

“The non-biological PM has broken this tradition. It is actually no surprise. He has still not woken up to the reality of the 2024 poll verdict which was a PPM defeat for him–personal, political and moral,” be said.

TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee earlier said his party was not consulted on fielding Suresh.

“No one contacted us. There have been no talks, unfortunately this has been a unilateral decision,” Banerjee said.

NCP (SP) president Sharad Pawar said, “In Parliament, non-BJP leaders sought my opinion and I advised them to tell the government that we agree to hold the Speaker’s election unopposed. Simultaneously, the Deputy Speaker’s post must go to the opposition,” the former Union minister added.

Congress leaders Venugopal and Deepender Hooda said the ball was still in the government’s court which could offer the Deputy Speaker’s post to the opposition and they would withdraw Suresh from the contest for the Speaker’s post.

The numbers are clearly stacked in favour of the ruling NDA with 293 MPs and the INDIA bloc has 233. At least three independent members have also supported the opposition.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Arvind Sawant said there was no Deputy Speaker in the last five years.

“High handedness is the way of the BJP. They don’t believe in the Constitution. If you believe in democracy, and when the opposition is strong, then they should have been allowed it with generosity,” he said.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the opposition wanted the Deputy Speaker’s post.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the post of Speaker always gets decided unanimously as the Speaker is not just for one party but for the House.

“This convention must be carried on,” she said.

(Only the headline has been reworked by staff. Copy comes from an agency feed)

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