Govt, Oppn face-off on Pro-tem Speaker

NEW DELHI, June 22:
Ahead of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha, the NDA Government and the INDIA bloc sparred on the issue of Pro-tem Speaker with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju accusing the Congress of resorting to lies and the opposition threatening to refuse to join the panel of chairpersons in the House.

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President Droupadi Murmu had appointed BJP leader and seven-term member Bhartruhari Mahtab as the Pro-tem Speaker of the Lok Sabha, who is tasked with administering the oath and affirmation to the newly-elected members of the Lower House and preside over the election of the Speaker.
The President had also named five senior members K Suresh (Congress), T R Baalu (DMK), Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste (both BJP) and Sudip Bandyopadhyay (TMC) to assist Mahtab in the process that will take place over the first three days of the Lok Sabha Session commencing on June 24.
The Congress had alleged that the Government has violated procedures and conventions and ignored the right of eight-term member Suresh to the post of the pro-tem Speaker, a claim dismissed as “misleading” by Rijiju.
On Saturday, opposition sources said Suresh, Baalu and Bandyopadhyay may not join the panel of chairpersons to assist Pro-tem Speaker Mahtab in administering the oath to the newly elected members of the Lok Sabha.
Rijiju had asserted that Mahtab was the senior-most in the House as he was elected for seven uninterrupted terms to the Lok Sabha, while Suresh, though a eight-term member, was not a member in 1998 and 2004.
Suresh had said his claim to the post of Pro-tem Speaker was overlooked as he belonged to the Dalit community, remarks that were scoffed at by Rijiju.
BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala said the Congress had deliberately insulted a “tribal” Parliamentary Affairs Minister by lying on the issue of pro-tem Speaker.
“Congress has always insulted Tribals. They called Droupadi Murmu ji Rashtrapatni and they even abused her,” Poonawala said.
Rijiju said he may be the first tribal to occupy the post of Parliamentary Affairs Minister but he won’t be intimidated by the threats and lies of Congress party.
“I will be bound by rules and will strictly follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji’s mantra of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas,” he said.
Earlier, Congress leader K C Venugopal had described the overlooking of Suresh’s claim to the Pro-tem Speaker post as an attempt at “destroying Parliamentary norms”.
“I have said this before and say this now, the battle for saving our democracy and Constitution isn’t over yet,” Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray said in a post on X. (PTI)