Why Is Congress Opposing Appointment Of Odisha’s Bhartruhari Mahtab As Pro-Tem Speaker?

OB Bureau

New Delhi: Opposition parties have criticised the appointment of Odisha’s Bhartruhari Mahtab as the pro-tem Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha. According to them, it deviates from the traditional practice of selecting the most senior member for the role. Notably, President Droupadi Murmu appointed him to the position on June 20.

Historically, the pro-tem Speaker is usually the most senior member of the House, who administers the oath to newly elected members and oversees the proceedings until a permanent Speaker is elected. However, Mahtab, who won the Cuttack parliamentary seat for the 7th time, has been appointed despite not being the senior-most member, Times Of India reported.

The Congress wants its party MP Kodikunnil Suresh, an eight-term Lok Sabha member to be the pro-tem Speaker. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “By convention, the MP who has served the maximum terms is appointed Speaker Protem for the first two days when the oath is administered to all newly elected MPs”.
“The senior-most MPs in the 18th Lok Sabha are Kodikunnil Suresh (INC) and Virendra Kumar (BJP), both of who are now serving their eighth term,” he added.

Mahtab’s selection by the BJP is also being seen as a reward for his electoral success in Odisha. Mahtab had switched over the BJP from the BJD just before the Lok Sabha elections.

BJP MP SambitPatra was quoted as saying by ANI, “The pro-tem Speaker is appointed through a convention, not a law… It is a long convention going on in India since independence. Now, Congress is trying to disturb this process. Bhartruhari Mahtab is serving as an MP consecutively for the seventh time. The convention says that the MP having the longest period of unbroken service can be appointed as pro-tem Speaker. So, in this 18th Lok Sabha, Bhartruhari Mahtab qualifies to become the pro-tem Speaker. As far as (Congress MP) K Suresh is concerned, he has served as an MP 8 times non-consecutively. It is the 4th consecutive term of K Suresh. However, it is the 7th consecutive term of Bhartruhari Mahtab. So, there has been no breach of convention.”

OB Bureau

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