BJP's B Mahtab appointed LS Protem Speaker, Cong cries foul for shunning Kodikunnil

Bhartruhari Mahtab, Kodukunnil Suresh. Photo: Manorama

New Delhi: The Congress-led opposition has cried foul after seven-term parliamentarian and BJP leader Bhartruhari Mahtab was on Thursday appointed Protem Speaker of the Lok Sabha, bucking the largely followed convention of appointing the senior most member to the post. The Protem 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 Protem Speaker and that he will be assisted by senior members Kodukunnil 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, an eight-term Lok Sabha member, to the post of the Protem Speaker. "In yet another attempt at destroying parliamentary norms, Bhartruhari Mahtab, a seven-term MP, has been appointed the Protem 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 Protem Speaker was not followed in 1956 when Sardar Hukam Singh was appointed to the post. In 1977, D N Tiwari was appointed as Protem 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 Protem 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. 
(With PTI inputs.)

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