All eyes on Lok Sabha Speaker election as Om Birla and Kodikunnil Suresh vie for position

Kodikunnil Suresh is the eight-time MP whom the Opposition felt should have been named as the pro-tem Speaker
Kodikunnil Suresh (Left) and Om Birla
Kodikunnil Suresh (Left) and Om BirlaPhoto | EPS, PTI

The Lok Sabha Speaker's post will see a fight between Om Birla and Kodikunnil Suresh after the opposition said the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rebuffed their demand to be assured of the Deputy Speaker's post.

The voting will be held at 11am on Wednesday.

Copy of our edition from January 24, 1946 with the story on the results of the Speaker's fight in the Central Assembly. The battle in 2024 will be a rare instance of a contest for the Lok Sabha Speaker's post in India.
Copy of our edition from January 24, 1946 with the story on the results of the Speaker's fight in the Central Assembly. The battle in 2024 will be a rare instance of a contest for the Lok Sabha Speaker's post in India.

BJP's Om Birla, who was the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha, has filed his nomination for the post as the NDA nominee.

He is set to be elected since the NDA has greater numbers, but the opposition is making its unhappiness clear in no uncertain terms.

Birla's challenger Kodikunnil Suresh is the eight-time MP whom the Opposition felt should have been named as the pro-tem Speaker by virtue of him having won the most number of elections among current members. He represents Kerala's Mavelikara Lok Sabha constituency.

Kodikunnil Suresh (third from left) seen filing his nomination for the Speaker's post.
Kodikunnil Suresh (third from left) seen filing his nomination for the Speaker's post.(Photo | Express)

When it came to the pro-tem speaker, the NDA had instead cast their vote in favour of Bhartruhari Mahtab leading to the first standoff between the government and the Opposition.

"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," a disappointed Suresh had told The New Indian Express.

Tuesday's developments came after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre for a perceived snub from the lawns of the Parliament ahead of Tuesday's session.

Om Birla, the speaker of the previous Lok Sabha, is set to return to the post as the National Democratic Alliance's nominee. He might though not be the consensus candidate after Rahul made it clear that the Congress is feeling slighted.

Rahul's criticism of PM Modi followed the attempt by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to reach out to opposition leaders to help seal a consensus around the NDA's nominee for the Speaker's post.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday evening was reportedly keen on being assured of the Deputy Speaker's post in return during the chat he had with Rajnath. But then came the rebuff.

The opposition and Rahul on Tuesday again cited convention to back their claim.

"We all know that there is no meaning in Prime Minister Modi's words. He talks of cooperation and everyone working together, but what actually is happening is something else. Our leader (Mallikarjun Kharge) was told his call will be returned, but it hasn't been till now," Rahul told reporters from the footsteps of the Parliament.

Piyush Goyal, speaking on behalf of the government, said the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are seen as representing the entire house. Insisting on Deputy Speaker being from a certain party is not in keeping with any convention, he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju urged the Congress not to force a contest for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker as the presiding officer does not belong to any party.

"I appeal again that they should think about keeping in mind the dignity of the post of Speaker.

We have the numbers but still, we are requesting that there should be no election for the post of Speaker because this post does not belong to any party," the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said.

He said the government had contacted major opposition parties over the last two days for consensus on the post of the Speaker.

"We want the Speaker to be elected unanimously and unopposed, so we contacted and appealed to them. Today, we had a meeting with Congress leaders. We appealed to them for support for the Speaker.

They said that they will support but they want the post of Deputy Speaker," Rijiju said.

The minister said the NDA floor managers said the election to the post of Speaker and Deputy Speaker were separate processes and it would be improper to combine both.

"The attitude of the Congress party was clear that if we did not agree to their conditions, they would not support (NDA candidate for) the post of Speaker," Rijiju said.

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