Final decision on pulling out from Pro tem speaker panel after INDIA bloc meeting: Senior Congress leader K Suresh

Early this week, President Droupadi Murmu appointed Mahtab as the Pro tem Speaker to perform the duties of the Chair till the election of the Speaker of the new Lok Sabha.
Kodikunnil Suresh
Kodikunnil Suresh(File Photo | Express)

NEW DELHI: As the row over the appointment of pro- tem Speaker escalates, senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Kodikunnil Suresh on Sunday said that a meeting of the INDIA bloc leaders will decide whether to pull out from the panel to assist pro-tem speaker Bhartruhari Mahtab.

Suresh is also a part of the panel, appointed by President Droupadi Murmu to assist the pro-tem Speaker in administering the oath of affirmation to the newly elected MPs.

The Opposition’s move to boycott the panel is to protest against the government’s alleged violation of procedures and conventions by bypassing the eight-term member K Suresh for the post of the pro-tem Speaker.

Speaking to the The New Indian Express, K Suresh said that though suggestions have come up not to join the panel of chairpersons to assist pro-tem Speaker Mahtab, a final decision will be taken by INDIA bloc leaders before the beginning of the session.

“A final decision on accepting the role will be taken today or tomorrow,” said Suresh.

Early this week, President Droupadi Murmu appointed Mahtab as the Pro tem Speaker to perform the duties of the Chair till the election of the Speaker of the new Lok Sabha.

Murmu also nominated a panel of senior MPs comprising Suresh, DMK MP T R Baalu, Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay, and BJP leaders Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste to assist Mahtab.

Suresh further said that the government violated conventions by appointing Mahtab, who joined the BJP only three months ago.

“The Parliamentary affairs minister argues that I didn’t have eight uninterrupted terms as a Lok Sabha member. But Mahtab served as a BJD MP for six terms and now he became a BJP MP for the first time. How can a person, who jumped ship to another party, administer an oath to the newly elected MPs? It is a violation of democratic principles ” he said..

Countering the opposition’s claims, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju asserted that Mahtab had seven uninterrupted terms as a Lok Sabha member, making him eligible for the post. Suresh lost elections in 1998 and 2004 which makes his current term as the fourth straight one in the lower house. Earlier, he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1999. “The minister has given a lame excuse. Even if I had won eight consecutive terms, they would have come with other reasons not to appoint me as pro tem Speaker,” said Suresh.

The Congress alleges that the government overlooked Suresh and appointed seven-time MP Bhartuhari Mahtab as the pro-tem Speaker because he is from the Dalit community. As per convention, the post must be held by the longest-serving parliamentarian.

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha beginning Monday will see oath-taking by newly elected members followed by the election of the Lok Sabha Speaker on June 26 and President Droupadi Murmu's address to a joint sitting of both the Houses on June 27.

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