Who Will Get Lok Sabha Speaker Post? Big Question After Modi 3.0 Signs In

The TDP and JDU are kingmakers in this election whose support is critical to Modi 3.0

New Delhi:

The swearing-in ceremony of the first and second Narendra Modi governments was held 10 and seven days, respectively, after the poll results. This time, the BJP fell short of majority and its top leadership had to hold hectic parleys with its allies, especially N Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP and Nitish Kumar’s JDU, to reach a consensus on ministerial berths. Yet, the BJP managed to hold the swearing-in ceremony of a full cabinet of 72 ministers just four days after the result. 

The key allies, TDP and JDU, have got two minister posts each — one cabinet rank and one minister of state post. A key question, however, remains: who gets the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post? Multiple reports have claimed that TDP and JDU, which have emerged as kingmakers in this election, are looking at the key position. But BJP sources have said they are not keen to hand it over. 

How Is Speaker Elected

According to the Constitution, the Speaker’s post becomes vacant immediately before the new Lok Sabha meets for the first time. A pro-tem Speaker, appointed by the President from among the senior members of the House, administers the oath of office to the new MPs. Subsequently, a Speaker is elected from among the members of the House by a simple majority. While there is no specific criteria to be elected as a Lok Sabha Speaker, an understanding of the Constitution and parliamentary rules is an advantage. The last two Lok Sabhas, in which the BJP had a majority, had Sumitra Mahajan and Om Birla as the Speaker.

A Tricky Position

The position of Lok Sabha Speaker is a tricky one. As someone who runs the House, the Speaker’s post is supposed to be non-partisan, but the one who occupies it has taken over the prestigious role after he/she has won an election as a representative of a particular party. Congress veteran N Sanjiva Reddy had resigned from the Congress after he was elected Speaker of the fourth Lok Sabha. Others, such as PA Sangma, Somnath Chatterjee and Meira Kumar did not formally resign from the party, but affirmed that they belonged to the whole House and not to a party. In fact, Mr Chatterjee was expelled by the CPM over his non-partisan stand during the 2008 no-confidence motion against the UPA government.

Why Are NDA Allies Eyeing Speaker Post

N Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar are political veterans and want the Speaker’s post as an ‘insurance’. Over the past couple of years, there have been multiple cases of mutiny within ruling parties that have led to splits and even toppled governments. In such cases, the anti-defection law comes into play, and this law gives a very powerful position to the Speaker of the House. “Chairman or the Speaker of the House have absolute power in deciding the cases pertaining to disqualification of members on the ground of defection,” the law states. In fact, Nitish Kumar has in the past accused the BJP of trying to break his party. The kingmakers, therefore, do not want to wake up to a mutiny and want the Speaker’s post as a shield against any such tactic.