In Lok Sabha Speaker Election, BJP Gets 4-MP Boost From Southern Party

Om Birla, Speaker in the 17th Lok Sabha also, faces the Congress' eight-time MP from Kerala's Mavelikara, Kodikunnil Suresh, who is the candidate of the joint INDIA opposition bloc.

In Lok Sabha Speaker Election, BJP Gets 4-MP Boost From Southern Party

Ex-Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy (File).

New Delhi:

Ex-Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party will support BJP MP Om Birla in Wednesday's election for the Lok Sabha Speaker's post, sources told NDTV Tuesday evening.

The YSRCP - thumped by arch-rivals TDP in the election - has only four MPs in the Lower House. The party swept the southern state in the 2019 poll, winning 22 of 25 seats, but a repeat this year proved impossible; Chandrababu Naidu's TDP, which also won the Assembly election, picked up 16 seats and its allies - the BJP and actor Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena Party - won five between them.

As such the offer of support may not be significant - since Mr Birla and the BJP already have the numbers to ensure victory - but it underlines a recent trend.

The YSRCP has often backed the BJP in Parliament, particularly in the Rajya Sabha, and helped it pass laws when it lacked the numbers. In the previous government, for example, Mr Reddy's party supported the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the scrapping of Article 370.

Like the YSRCP, the BJD of former Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also has a record of external support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party. However, unlike the YSRCP, the BJD is now without Lok Sabha MPs for the first time in its history, after drawing a blank this election. 

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Significant or not, the four additional votes in the BJP's corner means Mr Birla will have the support of 297 MPs, giving him an even more unbeatable lead. The BJP already has 240 votes from its own MPs and 53 from NDA partners, including the 16 from the YSRCP's rival - Chandrababu Naidu's TDP.

On the other side, the opposition has 232 MPs in its corner.

The election for the Speaker is based on simple majority.

Mr Birla, who was Speaker in the 17th Lok Sabha too, faces the Congress' eight-time MP from Kerala's Mavelikara, Kodikunnil Suresh, who is the candidate of the joint INDIA opposition bloc.

Mr Suresh's candidature followed a tense period this morning.

READ | Government vs Opposition On Speaker, First Contest In Decades

The BJP reached out to the opposition to reach an agreement for Mr Birla as Speaker, in line with parliamentary tradition that sees the post filled by consensus rather than an election. The opposition indicated it would back Mr Birla so long as the Deputy Speaker's post was offered to a non-BJP MP.

The ruling party, however, said it was unwilling to consider nominations for the deputy's post at this time, and called on INDIA bloc leaders to first back Om Birla for the Speaker's post.

READ | Om Birla To Be Speaker Again, BJP-Led Govt Sticks To Continuity

The opposition, however, refused to play ball and, as the clock ticked down to the noon deadline, whispers emerged that the Congress' K Suresh would be offered as an alternative to Mr Birla.

After filing his papers Mr Suresh told the press, "This is the party's decision... not mine. There is a convention... that Deputy Speaker will be from the opposition. But they (the BJP) are not ready to do this. We were waiting till 11.50 am... but there was no response. So we filed the nomination."

Union Minister Piyush Goyal, however, countered that claim, saying there is no precedent to suggest the Deputy Speaker's post must go to a member of an opposition party.

Who Will Be Lok Sabha Speaker?

The battle for the Speaker's post has rumbled on since the 2024 Lok Sabha election results were announced and it became clear the BJP could not form its third successive government without support from allies, particularly the TDP and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JDU.

There was, then, much ado about a TDP MP being made Speaker as part of a deal to 'reward' the Andhra Pradesh party, but the BJP quickly made it clear it would retain the key position.

There was then speculation the BJP could appoint Bhartruhari Mahtab, its MP from Cuttack in Odisha, after the party formed a government in the eastern state for the first time.

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Mr Mahtab was named Pro Tem Speaker, instead, and will administer oaths to all Lok Sabha MPs.

The Congress - which wanted Mr Suresh as Pro Tem - hit out at the BJP over Mr Mahtab's appointment. Senior leader KC Venugopal called it "an attempt to destroy democratic norms..."

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