18th Lok Sabha set for rocky start; Opposition to target Centre on NEET, criminal laws, Deputy Speaker

All eyes on Lok Sabha Speaker election on June 26 as Centre remains secretive about its candidate; Opposition stands firm on its claim to the Deputy Speaker post.
The new Parliament building complex in New Delhi.
The new Parliament building complex in New Delhi.FILE Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: With Congress objecting to BJP leader Bhartruhari Mahtab's appointment as pro-tem Speaker, the stage seems set for a contentious Parliament session from June 24 to July 3.

The focus shifts to the critical election of the 18th Lok Sabha Speaker on June 26, even as the Opposition accused the BJP-led NDA government of disregarding convention while appointing Mahtab. And with both sides at odds over the appointment, prospects for consensus on the Speaker and Deputy Speaker nominees seem slim.

On Friday, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the BJP was confrontational even before the beginning of the special session and that the party hasn’t overcome the mentality of 'Bulldozer politics,” referring to the pro-tem speaker appointment by ignoring the seniority of Congress' Suresh Kodikuunil, who is an eight-term MP.

"K Suresh is a Dalit. PM Modi's rejection of an eight-term MP sends a message that he is biased and is against the Constitution. The INDIA bloc will make sure that Parliament cannot be bulldozed anymore," he said.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju accused Congress of resorting to spreading lies and misleading everyone through social media posts even before the start of the first session of Parliament.

"K Suresh, though an eight-term MP, was not a member of the Lok Sabha in 1998 and 2004 and hence did not have an uninterrupted tenure in the Lok Sabha. We expected the Parliament proceedings to start on a good note. But Congress is resorting to spreading lies and misleading everyone through social media," said Rijiju.

While the government remains secretive about its Speaker candidate, the Opposition stands firm on its claim to the Deputy Speaker post.

Speaking to TNIE, Congress MP Manickam Tagore said, by convention, the post of Deputy Speaker should be with the Opposition.

"In the 17th Lok Sabha, the government went against constitutional norms by not appointing a deputy speaker. They never adhered to constitutional norms or conventions. The INDIA bloc will meet and decide the next course of action,” said Tagore.

Further, the debate on the Motion of Thanks at the President's address is expected to witness fireworks, with a resurgent Opposition is attempting to pressure the government on various contentious matters, such as alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG medical entrance exam and UGC-NET exam, the implementation of new criminal laws, and the Kanchanjunga Express accident in West Bengal, among others.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has declared that the INDIA bloc will exert pressure on the government in Parliament.

Another point of contention will be the three criminal laws, as the TMC and DMK demand a postponement of their rollout scheduled for July 1.

On Friday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sent a letter to Prime Minister Modi, urging him to keep the legislation in abeyance. The Congress and TMC also appear to be warming up on the issue, paving the way for better coordination among the INDIA bloc partners in Parliament.

The new Parliament building complex in New Delhi.
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The new Parliament building complex in New Delhi.
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