Congress politicising pro-tem speaker issue: Rijiju

NEW DELHI, 21 Jun: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday slammed the Congress for politicising the appointment of Lok Sabha pro-tem speaker and asserted that conventions were followed in selecting BJP leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, who has the longest uninterrupted tenure as a member of the Lower House.
President Droupadi Murmu has appointed Mahtab, a seven-term Lok Sabha MP from Odisha, as the pro-tem speaker, who administers oath/affirmation to the newly elected members of the Lok Sabha.
The Congress accused the BJP-led government of “destroying parliamentary norms” by ignoring the claim of Suresh, an eight-term Lok Sabha MP, to the post.
Rijiju claimed that Suresh, though an eight-term MP, was not a member of the Lok Sabha in 1998 and 2004, and hence did not have an uninterrupted tenure in the Lok Sabha.
“Do you think such an argument is even valid?” the minister shot back when asked about the Congress’ claims that Suresh was ignored for the post as he was a Dalit.
The minister accused Congress leaders of “spreading lies” and making “misleading statements” on the issue.
“We expected the Parliament proceedings to start on a good note. But even before the start of the first session of the Parliament, Congress resorted to spreading lies and misleading everyone through social media posts,” Rijiju said.
The minister cited past precedents to claim that the UPA government had ignored the seniority principle in 2004 when it had appointed eight-term member Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil as the pro-tem speaker, when nine-term MP George Fernandes was a member of the Lok Sabha.
Even claims of PM Sayeed and Giridhar Gamang to the post of pro-tem speaker were ignored by the Congress on earlier occasions, Rijiju said.
The minister also cited a Supreme Court order of 2018 that maintained that the convention of seniormost lawmaker being appointed as pro-tem speaker had no “legal force.”
“I have to say it with great regret that I feel ashamed that the Congress party has talked like this. First of all, they created an issue about the pro-tem speaker. This post of pro-tem speaker is very temporary. They play their role till the election of the new speaker. They do not have to do any business transaction,” Rijiju said. (PTI)