BJP's Bhartruhari Mahtab appointed pro-tem LS Speaker, Congress sees red

The appointment evoked a sharp reaction from the Congress as it pointed out that the party's Kodikunnil Suresh was qualified for the post, being the seniormost MP.
MP from Cuttack Bhartruhari Mahtab.
MP from Cuttack Bhartruhari Mahtab.Photo | Express

Amid suspense over the candidate for the Speaker post, President Droupadi Murmu has appointed Odisha BJP leader Bhartruhari Mahtab as pro-tem Speaker to perform the duties till the election of the Speaker.

The appointment evoked a sharp reaction from the Congress as it pointed out that the party's Kodikunnil Suresh was qualified for the post, being the seniormost MP who has served the maximum terms.

“Mr. Bhartruhari Mahtab (a 7-term MP) has been appointed the Pro-Tem Speaker, superseding Sh. @kodikunnilMP, who will be entering his 8th term. It is an unquestioned norm that the seniormost MP presides over the proceedings of the House before the Speaker is duly elected. 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,” Congress general secretary KC Venugopal wrote on X.

He further said that the government should explain why it chose to overlook K Suresh. “Are there deeper issues influencing this decision, perhaps beyond just merit and seniority?” he asked.

MP from Cuttack Bhartruhari Mahtab.
Will BJP’s Bhartruhari Mahtab break the record he set for BJD in Cuttack?

Announcing the decision, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju wrote on X, “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. President is also pleased to appoint Suresh Kodikunnil, Thalikkottai Rajuthevar Baalu, Radha Mohan Singh, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Sudip Bandyopadhyay, members of Lok Sabha under Article 99 of the Constitution to assist Speaker Protem in Oath/Affirmation to newly elected Members of 18th Lok Sabha till election of the Speaker.”

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha will meet from June 24 to July 3 and the election for the Speaker post is scheduled for June 26. Before the Speaker is elected, the President appoints a pro-tem Speaker to administer the oath of office to the Prime Minister's Council of ministers and newly elected MPs. By convention, the post goes to the seniormost member of parliament.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that overlooking seniority, Mahtab has been appointed pro-tem Speaker.

“By convention, the MP who has served the maximum terms is appointed Speaker Protem 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. Mahtab was a BJD MP for six terms and is now a BJP MP,” said Ramesh.

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