BJP MP Mahtab appointed LS pro-tem speaker, Cong cries foul

BJP MP Mahtab appointed LS pro-tem speaker, Cong cries foul

New Delhi: Seven-term parliamentarian and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bhartruhari Mahtab was on Thursday appointed pro-tem Speaker of the Lok Sabha, bucking the largely followed convention of appointing the senior most member to the post, drawing sharp criticism from the opposition Congress.

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.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju announced that President Droupadi Murmu has appointed Mahtab as the pro-tem Speaker and that he will be assisted by senior members K Suresh (Congress), T R Baalu (DMK), Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste (both BJP) and Sudip Bandyopadhyay (TMC).

Shortly after Rijiju's announcement, the Congress accused the BJP-led government of "destroying parliamentary norms" by ignoring the claim of Suresh, a eight-term Lok Sabha member, to the post of the pro-tem Speaker.

"In yet another attempt at destroying parliamentary norms, Bhartruhari Mahtab, a seven-term MP, has been appointed the pro-tem Speaker, superseding Kodikunnil Suresh, who will be entering his eighth term," AICC general secretary K C Venugopal said in a post on X.

Congress leader Manickam Tagore, in a post on X, said, "First mistake as Parliamentary Affairs Minister: 7-term BJP MP Bhartruhari Mahtab chosen as Protem Speaker of Lok Sabha over senior-most Dalit MP Kodikunnil Suresh of Congress."

The BJP said the Congress should "relax" as the grand old party has lost the Lok Sabha elections.

"You have just lost an election. Relax. Reflect on third consecutive defeat, instead of whining about everything," BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya said on X.

Mahtab, who switched sides from the BJD to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, won the Cuttack parliamentary seat.

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.

In 2019, Virendra Kumar, then a seven-term member of the Lok Sabha, was appointed as pro-tem Speaker. Maneka Gandhi was the senior most member of the previous Lok Sabha being an eight-term member.

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.