Opposition leaders to meet tonight to evolve strategy for Speaker's election, TMC says not consulted

TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, however, said his party was not consulted on fielding Kodikunnil Suresh of the Congress as the INDIA bloc's joint nominee for the post
Abhishek Banerjee speaking to the media
Abhishek Banerjee speaking to the mediaScreengrab - 'X'

NEW DELHI: Leaders of the INDIA bloc will meet here Tuesday night to evolve a strategy for the Lok Sabha Speaker's election even as the Congress said the ball is in the government's court to bring about a consensus on the issue by offering the Opposition the deputy Speaker's post according to convention.

TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, however, said his party was not consulted on fielding Kodikunnil Suresh of the Congress as the INDIA bloc's joint nominee for the post, adding party chief Mamata Banerjee will take a decision on backing Suresh.

"No one contacted us. There have been no talks, unfortunately this has been a unilateral decision," Banerjee said.

Sources said the TMC has not signed the nomination papers of Suresh for the election of Speaker and may not attend the opposition meeting tonight.

They said top leaders of the INDIA bloc would meet at 8 PM at Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge's residence to chalk out its strategy.

The election for the Speaker's post would be held on Wednesday morning and the NDA has the numbers to win the election.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the Opposition's offer was that the government should offer the post of deputy speaker to it according to past conventions and it would offer support to Birla's candidature in return.

However, the government has said the support to Birla's candidature cannot be conditional as the Speaker belongs to all parties and there has to be consensus on his name.

"Parliamentary democracy runs on trust in what the ruling party says, and more importantly trust that is reflected in what it does.

"The Non-biological PM got the 17th Lok Sabha (2019-2024) to run WITHOUT a Deputy Speaker, which was unprecedented. In the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-2019), he gave the post to his covert ally," Ramesh said in a post on X.

He said in the recent past, during the tenures of Manmohan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and PV Narasimha Rao, the deputy speaker was an Opposition MP.

"The INDIA janbandhan's offer was very simple. It will support the BJP candidate for Speaker but the Deputy Speaker should be an INDIA janbandhan nominee. This was a perfectly legitimate offer in keeping with Parliamentary traditions. The counter offer by the ruling party - 'Support us now for Speaker and we will discuss Deputy Speaker later' - was unacceptable given the non-biological PM's track record. Tathastu," Ramesh also said.

Congress leaders K C Venugopal and Deepender Hooda said that the ball was still in the government's court which could offer the deputy speaker's post to the opposition and they would withdraw Suresh from the contest for the Speaker's post.

Hooda said the opposition can still withdraw in favour of Birla in case the government decides to offer the deputy chairman's post to the opposition.

Abhishek Banerjee speaking to the media
Lok Sabha Speaker's post to see fight between Om Birla and Kodikunnil Suresh

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