Bhartruhari Mahtab Appointed Pro-tem Speaker Amid Criticism

    BJP's Bhartruhari Mahtab sworn in as pro-tem Speaker, sparking opposition criticism over breaking tradition.

    President Droupadi Murmu swore in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Bhartruhari Mahtab as the pro-tem Speaker to open the first session of Parliament after the 18th Lok Sabha elections. The opposition has criticized Mahtab’s appointment, saying it goes against tradition.

    Mahtab will now give the oath to over 280 recently elected Members of Parliament as well as Prime Minister Modi. Tomorrow, the remaining MPs—among them Rahul Gandhi—will take the oath of office and become members of the Lok Sabha.

    Who is Bhartruhari Mahtab, the Pro-tem Speaker?

    Experienced Odisha politician Bhartruhari Mahtab has been a member of the Lok Sabha since 1998. He is the son of the late Odisha chief minister Harekrushna Mahatab, who served two terms. Mahtab joined the BJP in March 2024 after having previously belonged to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). He has won several reelections from the Cuttack constituency.

    Pro-tem speaker: what is it?

    Until a permanent Speaker is chosen, the President appoints the pro-tem Speaker, who is responsible for giving oaths to newly elected Members of Parliament and supervising House operations.

    A pro-tem Speaker must be appointed in accordance with Article 94 of the Constitution when the Speaker’s position becomes vacant prior to the next Lok Sabha’s first meeting.

    On June 26, a new Lok Sabha Speaker will be chosen. The pro-tem Speaker will preside over the first sessions and hold the elections for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker in the interim. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the BJP, is expected to have a significant influence over the simple majority mechanism used to elect the Speaker.

    What is the debate around the appointment of the pro-tem speaker?

    The NDA and the opposition’s INDIA are at odds over the choice of BJP leader Bhartruhari Mahtab as the Speaker. Mahtab’s appointment has drawn criticism from the opposition, especially the Congress party, which claims that it breaks with the custom of choosing the most senior MP. They emphasized that K Suresh, a Dalit leader and eight-term member, was passed up for the position.

    The INC’s Kodikunnil Suresh, who is serving his eighth term, ought to have served as Speaker pro tem. However, Mahtab was appointed on the pretext that, having served seven terms in a row, he had a strong claim.



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