Litmus session for Modi 3.0 vs a stronger, confident opposition

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From the Net

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha is set to begin on a combative note on Monday, June 24, with a resurgent and high spirited opposition with enhanced numbers in no mood to repeat its submissive role, like in 2014 and 2019.

Issues pertaining to alleged irregularities in conduct of NEET-UG and NET exams, alleged bias in appointment of pro-tem speaker besides shifting of statues in new parliament premises are likely to be key focus areas where the opposition would crank up pressure on NDA.

The session, the first since the Lok Sabha elections, is set to witness newly elected MPs taking oath, followed by the election of the Lok Sabha Speaker on June 26 and President Droupadi Murmu’s address to a joint sitting of both Houses on June 27.

The 264th session of the Rajya Sabha is also scheduled to commence on June 27, while the joint session will conclude on July 3, resuming for the monsoon sitting on July 22.

The session will begin with President Murmu administering the oath to BJP’s Bhartruhari Mahatab as the pro tem Speaker. The opposition is up in areas against Mahatab’s appointment, claiming candidature of Congress’s Kodikunnil Suresh, an eight-term Lok Sabha MP, was ignored by the government.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju defended the government’s decision by stating that Mahatab had had seven consecutive terms as Lok Sabha member, making him eligible for the post. However, the Opposition camp has alleged flouting of practice by disregarding seniority of Congress’s Kodikunnil Suresh.

Talking to reporters on Monday morning, Rijiju said, ‘I met all the leaders. I met DMK Parliamentary Party leader TR Baalu. Everyone agrees that Pro tem Speaker has never been an issue in the history of Indian Parliament and the appointment of Pro-tem Speaker is basically to administer oath to the newly elected members and help in the election of the new Speaker. All should jointly work to take the proceedings of house ahead.”

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh replied to Rijiju on social media platform X, “Actions will speak louder than words Mr Minister. Walk the talk.”

Meanwhile, BJP MP Sambit Patra defended the appointment of Bhartruhari Mahtab as pro-tem Speaker, citing tradition over law, as the basis of selection.
As per Patra, the convention was that the MP with the longest unbroken service was chosen for the role. Mahtab is currently serving his seventh consecutive term which met the criterion.

Who is Pro-tem speaker?

Under Article 99 of the Constitution, every Member of the House must take an oath or affirmation before taking their seat. This is typically done before the President or a person appointed by the President

In a new Lok Sabha, the Speaker is elected by a simple majority. Until the Speaker is elected, a pro-tem Speaker is appointed to fulfill essential duties temporarily. The term ‘pro-tem’ signifies that the position is temporary.

While the Constitution does not specifically mention the role of the pro-tem Speaker, the official “Handbook on the Working of Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs” provides guidelines for the appointment and duties of the Speaker pro-tem.

Who is Bhartruhari Mahatab?

The pro-tem speaker 18th Lok Sabha for Bhartruhari Mahatab is a seven time MP from Cuttack parliamentary seat of Odisha. He received the Best Parliamentarian award for 2017. He is also the recipient of Sansad Ratna Award for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Mahtab was a member of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) political party, and resigned from the BJD to join BJP on March 28, 2024. He was first elected to the 12th Lok Sabha in 1998 from Cuttack constituency in Odisha. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019 from the same constituency.
Bhartruhari is son of former Odisha CM Harekrishna Mahtab.

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