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Controversy Surrounding Appointment of Pro-tem Speaker Bhartruhari Mahtab in 18th Lok Sabha



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The appointment of Bhartruhari Mahtab as the pro-tem Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha has sparked a controversy between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. Mahtab, a long-standing member representing Cuttack from Odisha, was appointed by President Droupadi Murmu.

Opposition parties, especially Congress, have raised objections to Mahtab’s appointment, stating that the traditional practice of appointing the most senior member was flouted by the BJP. They argued that K Suresh, an eight-term member from their party, should have been chosen instead.

Jairam Ramesh, a senior Congress leader, accused the BJP of politicizing the appointment and deviating from established norms in the Lok Sabha. The dispute escalated as the INDIA bloc, comprising Congress and other opposition parties, withdrew its members from supporting Mahtab in the proceedings.

The government defended Mahtab’s selection by highlighting his uninterrupted service in the Lok Sabha, contrasting it with Suresh’s intermittent terms. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra emphasized that the appointment was based on longstanding convention rather than legal requirements.

Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, reached out to TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay after the Opposition’s withdrawal from the panel assisting Mahtab. Rijiju urged Congress not to politicize the issue and maintained that Mahtab’s appointment was in adherence to the rules.

The pro-tem Speaker’s role is critical as they administer the oath to newly elected members and oversee House proceedings until the permanent Speaker is chosen. During the previous Lok Sabha assembly, Virendra Kumar held the position, appointed by then-President Ram Nath Kovind.

Rachel Adams

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