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VPP MP to skip LS Speaker’s election

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From CK Nayak

NEW DELHI, June 25: In keeping with its steadfast manoeuvres, the VPP has decided to remain absent from Wednesday’s crucial election to the post of Speaker of Lok Sabha, thereby making a statement that it will not lend support to any of the two sides, which are the NDA and the INDIA bloc.
While the VPP’s newly elected Shillong MP, Ricky AJ Syngkon, decided to remain absent, Congress’s Saleng Sangma, the MP from Tura, will vote for the party candidate fielded against the BJP-led NDA nominee as decided by the Congress-led INDIA alliance.
“Our MP will neither support NDA nor INDIA bloc,” said VPP party supremo Ardent Basaiawmoit. “We wish the two would have reached a consensus on the Speaker’s post,” he added.
Both the newly elected MPs from Meghalaya — Ricky Syngkon and Saleng Sangma — held a series of meetings with respective party leaders on the first crucial voting for the Speaker’s post slated for Wednesday. Saleng’s vote is clear since the INDIA bloc led by the Congress has decided to support the joint opposition candidate KG Suresh. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has issued a whip to all its MPs to remain present in the House and vote for its candidate.
Shillong MP Ricky Syngkon held discussions with VPP president, Ardent Basaiawmoit, who is in Delhi and others. VPP had already decided not to align with the BJP-led NDA or the Congress-led INDIA.
Apart from VPP, the only other regional party, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), has already decided to support the NDA after formation of the government. Role of even one-member regional parties in the Speaker’s election has become important even if it is slanted in favour of the government the way the numbers are stacked up as of now.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting of MPs and party leaders of the ruling alliance Tuesday evening and asked them to reach Parliament by 10.30 am on Wednesday morning where attendance is mandatory.
The election of the Speaker — a first in Independent India — will take place at 11 am as till date, a Speaker has been chosen by consensus. But the Opposition, energised by their numbers in the Lok Sabha, has refused to accept the government’s brush-off on the issue of the Pro-Tem Speaker and the Deputy Speaker’s post.
From the Northeast, only Purno A Sangma was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the 11th Lok Sabha. Prior to him, George Gilbert Swell was Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
The Opposition initially expected Suresh to be the Pro-Tem Speaker
— a post that goes to the senior-most member of the House. But the government made it clear that they are not considering a Deputy Speaker’s post, or the Opposition’s claim to it, for now.
Congress has fielded senior leader Suresh against the BJP’s choice — Rajasthan MP, Om Birla, who was the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha as well. The numbers, as they stand now, do not favour the Opposition. The Speaker is elected by a simple majority of MPs present and voting. The NDA can expect 293 votes to the Opposition bloc’s 232.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju, who handles the Parliamentary Affairs portfolio, issued a last appeal for a consensus candidate.

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