'BJP bypassing parliamentary democracy', says Congress MP K Suresh on pro-tem Speaker issue

Suresh said that the BJP will continue to insult the opposition, take away its opportunities and not give it the recognition it deserves, as they did during the last two times they were in power.
Eight-term Congress MP Kodikunnil Suresh
Eight-term Congress MP Kodikunnil SureshPhoto | EPS

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Eight-term Congress MP Kodikunnil Suresh on Friday said that being the senior most Lok Sabha member, he ought to have been made the pro-tem Speaker as per conventions and not doing so shows that the "BJP will continue to bypass Parliamentary procedures as it did the last two times".

A day after seven-term parliamentarian and BJP leader Bhartruhari Mahtab was made the pro-tem Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Suresh said that it was against the conventions followed in the past.

"This decision amounts to threatening parliamentary democracy in the country. It indicates that the BJP will continue to bypass parliamentary procedures or use them for its own interests, as it did the last two times," he contended while speaking to media.

The pro-tem Speaker will administer the oath/affirmation to the newly elected members of the 18th Lok Sabha and preside over the Lower House till the election of the Speaker.

Suresh said that the decision also indicates that the BJP will continue to insult the opposition, take away its opportunities and not give it the recognition it deserves, as they (BJP) did during the last two times they were in power.

Eight-term Congress MP Kodikunnil Suresh
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The senior Congress MP from Mavelikkara LS constituency said that despite the BJP not having a majority in the House on its own, as it did the last two times, there was no change in how it was conducting itself.

Suresh said that as per the largely followed past conventions, the Lok Sabha member who has been an MP the most number of times, is made the pro-tem Speaker.

"This convention was followed in the past when the Congress, UPA, BJP and the NDA were in power," he said.

Last time, Maneka Gandhi, who was an eight-term MP, was eligible to be the pro-tem Speaker, but she was not interested as she was not made a Union minister, Suresh claimed.

"After her, the senior most MPs were myself and BJP's Veerendra Kumar. But, Kumar was chosen to be Pro-tem Speaker. This time too, Kumar and I were the senior most MPs. He was made a cabinet minister and therefore, automatically, as per LS rules, procedures and conventions, I should have been made pro-tem Speaker.

"My name was recommended by the LS secretariat. But when the Centre sent its recommendation to the President, my name was avoided," he claimed.

The Centre's decision had drawn sharp criticism from the Congress on Thursday. The practice of appointing the senior most member as the pro-tem Speaker was not followed in 1956 when Sardar Hukam Singh was appointed to the post.

In 1977, D N Tiwari was appointed as pro-tem Speaker. He too was not the senior most member of the House. The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha will begin on June 24. The newly elected members will take oath/affirmation on June 24-25. The election of the Speaker is scheduled to take place on June 26.

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