I am reminded of the history of 1999… Why are all eyes set on the speaker's post in Modi 3.0?

Ananya Shroff
6 Min Read

New Delhi: Modi Government 3.0 has been formed. Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister of India for the third time. However, only one thing is different in this government, that is the role of coalition parties. This time, the constituent parties of the NDA alliance have also been given a lot of space in the Modi cabinet. After the cabinet, now everyone's eyes are on the post of Lok Sabha Speaker. It is being said that N Chandrababu Naidu's TDP and Nitish Kumar's JDU, which are important allies of the BJP and whose support is necessary for the majority of the government, are eyeing this post. Actually, the importance of this post is understood when there is a rift in the ruling parties in the coalition government or the government falls. In such cases, the anti-defection law is applicable and the post of the Speaker of the House plays an important role. In 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government fell after losing the confidence motion in the Lok Sabha despite assurances of support from many other party leaders. Just one vote decided the future of the Vajpayee government and exposed the power of the Lok Sabha Speaker. The reason for toppling the government was not the Speaker's vote but his decision. Both Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar are experienced leaders of the alliance and they want the Speaker's post as a shield to avoid any such ploy. Incidentally, the Lok Sabha Speaker who played a key role in toppling the Vajpayee government in 1999 was also from the TDP.

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When Vajpayee government fell because of TDP

Modi Government 3.0 has been formed with the support of TDP and JDU. This time BJP got only 240 seats, which is behind the majority figure of 272. The same situation was there in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1990. However, compared to then, BJP is much stronger now. This was the time when the opposition brought a no-confidence motion against the Vajpayee government. During this time, the Vajpayee government fell by just one vote. This vote was cast by Odisha Congress leader Giridhar Gamang. At that time, TDP's GMC Balayogi was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. The Speaker himself allowed Gamang to cast his vote, even though Gamang had taken oath as the Chief Minister of Odisha a few days ago. If the Speaker had not allowed Gamang to cast his vote, the 'yes' and 'no' votes in the House would have been equal.

At that time, the final votes on the confidence motion were 269 in favour of the NDA and 270 against. The government fell by one vote. If the Speaker had not given permission to Gaamang, he would have had to take the final decision, which would probably have been in favour of the NDA. This shows that not only the Speaker's vote is decisive in toppling a government, but his decision and discretion are also important. A decision of the Speaker made Vajpayee the first Prime Minister to lose a confidence vote in the Lok Sabha. In 1998, under pressure from N Chandrababu Naidu, Balayogi of the TDP was appointed the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Will BJP take the risk of making a TDP leader the Speaker again?

25 years after the fall of the Vajpayee government, there are reports that Naidu is again demanding the post of Lok Sabha Speaker. But it does not seem that the BJP will take the same risk again. However, the election of the Speaker will be a big challenge for Modi 3.0. In fact, Modi Government 3.0 includes 16 MPs from TDP and 12 MPs from JDU. The government has already included MPs from both the parties in the cabinet. But if TDP has already expressed its desire for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker, then Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray has suggested that JDU should also demand it. The sentence 'Jiska Speaker, Uski Sarkar' correctly reflects the importance of the post of Lok Sabha Speaker. In such a situation, solving the issue of the post of Speaker has definitely become a challenge for the BJP.

Who can become the speaker of the Lok Sabha?

BJP sources have said that they are not keen to hand over the post of president to anyone else. However, no official statement has come yet. Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh BJP chief D Purandeswari's name is doing the rounds for this important post. Purandeswari is the daughter of former Chief Minister and famous actor NT Rama Rao and Naidu's sister-in-law. Her husband Daggubati Venkateswara Rao is a former Congress MP and MLA, who later joined the YSR Congress Party.

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