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  4. Who is pro-tem Speaker of Lok Sabha? Know all about the controversy, past post-holders

Who is pro-tem Speaker of Lok Sabha? Know all about the controversy, past post-holders

BJP MP Bhartruhari Mahtab took oath as the pro-tem Speaker of Lok Sabha. A controversy erupted soon after the President appointed him to the post on June 20.

Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 New Delhi Updated on: June 24, 2024 19:49 IST
What is protem Speaker, What is protem Speaker controversy, Lok Sabha
Image Source : SANSAD TV Lok Sabha

Parliament Session: The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha began on Monday with the oath-taking of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an MP in the Lower House by pro-tem Speaker Bhartruhari Mahtab, a BJP leader. Ahead of the session, President Droupadi Murmu administered oath to BJP member Mahtab as 'speaker pro-tem'. She had appointed him to the temporary post of Lok Sabha on June 20, triggering sharp reactions from the Opposition.

Who is a pro-tem Speaker?

Pro-tem Speaker is a temporary post in Lok Sabha and is given to a member who is among the senior most MPs in the House, according to a convention. The role of the pro-tem Speaker is to administer the oath to the new members of the House.

What is the controversy?

Congress said that its leader Kodikunnil Suresh, elected for the first time in 1989, is an 8-time MP and is therefore the senior-most member in the House, however, Mahtab, who was elected for the first time in 1998 from Cuttack and has been a member ever since, is a 7-time MP. The party alleged that the BJP surpassed the tradition and convention, though nowhere in laws, to appoint a 7-time MP as pro-tem Speaker over an 8-time MP.

The Congress had taken objection to Mahtab's appointment, contending that the claim of eight-term member Suresh, a Dalit leader, was overlooked. The INDIA bloc said opposition leaders Suresh, Baalu and Bandopadhyay will not join the panel of chairpersons as a mark of protest.

Congress leader KC Venugopal alleged that the saffron party has attempted to destroy parliamentary norms with its move. He sought an answer from the government over why it “chose to overlook” K Suresh.

“In yet another attempt at destroying parliamentary norms, Mr. Bhartruhari Mahtab (a 7-term MP) has been appointed the Pro-Tem Speaker, superseding Sh. @kodikunnilMP, who will be entering his 8th term.  It is an unquestioned norm that the senior most MP presides over the proceedings of the House before the Speaker is duly elected. It is a matter of immense pride for our party that K Suresh, a leader from the marginalised section of society,has achieved this feat of being 8-term MP. The government should explain why it chose to overlook K Suresh, what was the factor that disqualified him from this post? Are there deeper issues influencing this decision, perhaps beyond just merit and seniority?” Venugopal had said on X.

BJP explains reason for Mahtab’s appointment

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju explained the grounds for the choice by the government and said that while Mahtab has been an MP in Lok Sabha for seven consecutive terms, K Suresh, though being won the elections for eight times, had lost polls in 1998 and 2004, which means that he is in his fourth straight term in the House. Rijiju asserted that Mahtab has seven uninterrupted terms as the MP, as against four consecutive terms of Suresh, which made the former eligible for the post. Suresh was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989, 1991, 1996, 1999, 2009, 2014, 2019 and 2024.

List of earlier pro-tem Speakers

S. No. Pro-tem Speaker Political party Lok Sabha
1 Somnath Chatterjee CPI(M) 14th (2004)
2 Manikrao Hodlya Gavit Congress 15th (2009)
3 Kamal Nath Congress 16th (2014)
4 Virendra Kumar Khatik BJP 17th (2019)
5 Bhartruhari Mahtab BJP 18th (2024)

 

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