NDA seeks Speaker who can represent Parliament globally

So who will be the next Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha, which convenes for the first time in a fortnight? A search is underway to find the ideal candidate among Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs, 303 of whom will enter the House after the April-May general election.

The person chosen to be Speaker will have to almost immediately take key decisions, one of which is to rule whether the Lok Sabha will have a leader of the opposition. The 16th Lok Sabha didn’t have one because no opposition party had the required numbers.

The search criteria for the Speaker are exacting and precise and divided into four clear markers, HT has learnt. First, the chosen person needs to be a whiz at parliamentary processes. Tricky logjams inside the house can only be broken up by someone who has the rule book at the fingertips, and that’s the number 1 criterion.

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Second, the person would need to put India’s best foot forward at international parliamentary forums. A good rapport with non-BJP members is another decisive factor, two senior leaders of the party told HT, And, finally, the person will need to be a parliamentary veteran.

A BJP leader will occupy the Speaker’s chair on January 19 after the party emerged with a clear majority in the 543-member Lok Sabha from the general election and has the numbers required to defeat any opposition candidate, if one were to be fielded.

“Someone who can effectively and firmly showcase the power of India’s parliament democracy to the rest of the world will be the Speaker,” the first leader said, requesting anonymity. “New Delhi is keen to show India’s emergence as a global power and the role of the Speaker assumes importance in that context.”

A Lok Sabha speaker represents India in at least four major international events in a year and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime wants to use these forums to deepen its international engagement.

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The Speaker is the ex-officio president of the Indian Parliamentary Group (IPG), set up in 1949, which functions as the National Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the main branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). The Speaker is also the chairman of the Conference of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India and leads most of the parliamentary delegations on overseas visits.

“The Speaker’s role is not limited to just basic duties of Parliament,” the second leader said.

With several pieces of legislation related to reforms in key sectors expected to get a fresh push in the second innings of the Narendra Modi government, the ruling party wants a seasoned politician who can negotiate with opposition parties and prevent deadlocks that delay the passage of such bills.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi told his party’s MPs on Saturday that the last time if the Speaker gave them five minutes to speak in the House, it may be just two minutes this time around, signalling the opposition party’s concern that the treasury benches may silence criticism in Parliament. “But in those two minutes, we will put forth what the Congress party believes,” Gandhi said.

It’s evident that the 17th Lok Sabha won’t lack in action.

First Published:
Jun 02, 2019 07:13 IST

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