Rijiju Fact Checks Congress's 'Mistake' Remark on Mahtab's Appointment as Pro Tem Speaker

President Droupadi Murmu appointed Bhartruhari Mahtab, Member of Parliament, as the Pro-tem Speaker of the Lok Sabha on Thursday. This appointment was made under Article 95(1) of the Constitution.
Rijiju And Mahtab

Rijiju Defends Mahtab In Pro-Tem Speaker Row, After Congress Calls It A ‘Mistake’

Photo : PTI
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are once again at odds, this time over the appointment of BJP leader Bhartruhari Mahtab as the Pro Tem Speaker of the newly elected Lok Sabha. The Pro Tem Speaker's role is temporary, limited to administering the oath to new Members of Parliament and overseeing the election of the full-time Speaker.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to announce the name of the new Speaker on Wednesday, two days after the first session of the new Lok Sabha. Given the BJP's majority, their candidate for Speaker is likely to be elected without difficulty.
The Congress had anticipated that Kodikunnil Suresh, a Dalit leader and an eight-time MP from Kerala, would be appointed as Pro Tem Speaker. The party criticised the BJP's choice of Mahtab, with a senior Congress leader expressing dissatisfaction on social media on Thursday.
"First mistake as Parliamentary Affairs Minister: 7-term BJP MP Bhartruhari Mahtab chosen as Pro Tem Speaker of Lok Sabha over senior-most Dalit MP Kodikkunnil Suresh of Congress. What are the minister's intentions?," he wrote in a post on X.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju responded to the criticism on Friday. "I have to say it with great regret... I feel ashamed that the Congress talks like this. First, they have an issue with the Pro Tem Speaker, but this post is very temporary... it has a very limited role. I was hoping that this Lok Sabha session would start with a good mood... and that we can have a productive and co-operative parliament meet."
During a press conference, Rijiju said, "The way the Pro Tem Speaker issue has been raised by Congress, I had to speak. We wanted this first and special session to be peaceful. Even the Prime Minister hoped for a session without any controversy. But Congress is misleading people. I want to say the appointment of the Pro Tem Speaker has been made as per rules."
Rijiju pointed out that Mahtab is the longest-serving consecutive MP. He cited historical precedents to support the decision, mentioning that in 1956, Hukum Singh was made Pro Tem Speaker even though he was not the senior-most. Similarly, in 1977, the senior-most MP was not chosen for the role. Rijiju also noted that in 2004, VK Patil, who had served eight terms, was made Pro Tem Speaker, while Atal Bihari Vajpayee had ten terms and George Fernandes had nine.
In 2019, Maneka Gandhi, the senior-most MP with eight non-consecutive terms, was not appointed Pro Tem Speaker; instead, Virendra Singh, with seven terms, was chosen.
"All leaders we approached were happy. Congress is engaging in petty politics. The opposition has the right to question, and we will answer, but this entire Pro Tem Speaker issue is being unnecessarily politicised," Rijiju further added.
End of Article
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