‘Destroying Parliamentary norms’, says Congress after Bhartruhari Mahtab appointed pro-tem Speaker of 18th Lok Sabha

The Congress party has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of “destroying parliamentary norms” by ignoring the claim of Congress leader K Suresh, an eight-term Lok Sabha member, for the post of the pro-tem Speaker.

Written By Gulam Jeelani (with inputs from PTI)
Updated21 Jun 2024, 11:41 AM IST
‘Destroying Parliamentary norms’, says Congress after B Mahtab appointed pro-tem Speaker of 18th Lok Sabha
‘Destroying Parliamentary norms’, says Congress after B Mahtab appointed pro-tem Speaker of 18th Lok Sabha(Mohd Zakir)

Seven-term parliamentarian and BJP leader Bhartruhari Mahtab was on June 20 appointed pro-tem Speaker of the Lok Sabha, deviating from the largely followed convention of appointing the senior most member of the House to the post, drawing sharp criticism from the opposition Congress.

The primary job of the pro-tem Speaker is to administer the oath to the newly- elected members of the 18th Lok Sabha and preside over the Lower House till the election of the Speaker.

Also Read: A fiery debut session ahead for 18th Lok Sabha with stronger Opposition in place

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).

'Destroying Parliamentary Norms'

Shortly after Rijiju's announcement, the Congress accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of "destroying parliamentary norms" by ignoring the claim of Suresh, an 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.

Also Read: Bhartruhari Mahtab appointed as Speaker Protem of Lok Sabha

Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, in a post on X, said, appointing BJP MP Bhartruhari Mahtab as Pro-tem Speaker of Lok Sabha was another attempt at ‘destroying’ Parliamentary norms. 

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 process

Since the Speaker has to be elected by a simple majority in the House, until then, a pro-tem Speaker is chosen to perform the Speaker’s duties, including the oath-taking of MPs. The word ‘pro-tem’ means ‘for the time being’ or ‘temporarily’.

The ‘pro-tem’ post is not mentioned in the Constitution. The ‘Handbookon the Working of Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs', however, mentions the ‘Appointment and Swearing in of Speaker pro-tem.

Also Read: Who will be the pro-tem speaker of 18th Lok Sabha? What is the role in the inaugural session? 5 points

The duties of the Speaker will be performed by a Member of the House (Lok Sabha) appointed by the President as Speakerpro tem, according to the rules mentioned in the handbook.

The President usually appoints three other elected MPs to administer the oaths to other MPs. The rules mentioned in the handbook say that the senior most members of the Lok Sabha, in terms of the number of years as MP, are chosen for this purpose.

There have been exceptions, though. 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, DN 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.

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First Published:21 Jun 2024, 11:41 AM IST
HomePoliticsNews‘Destroying Parliamentary norms’, says Congress after Bhartruhari Mahtab appointed pro-tem Speaker of 18th Lok Sabha

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