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Controversy Erupts as Akbaruddin Owaisi Appointed Pro Tem Speaker in Telangana Assembly
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Controversy Erupts as Akbaruddin Owaisi Appointed Pro Tem Speaker in Telangana Assembly

The inaugural session of the third Telangana Assembly kicked off with a dash of controversy as Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan administered the oath to All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi as the pro tem Speaker. However, this move has not been without its share of drama, with some BJP MLAs opting to boycott the ceremony.

In a video message, BJP MLA-elect Raja Singh, representing Goshamahal, declared his refusal to participate in the oath-taking ceremony presided over by Akbaruddin Owaisi. Singh cited the AIMIM MLA’s previous anti-Hindu remarks as the reason for his stance, stating, “Can I take oath in front of a person who made anti-Hindu comments in the past?”

Singh went on to claim that Chief Minister Revanth Reddy shared similar concerns about AIMIM’s influence, drawing parallels with his predecessor, K Chandrashekar Rao. Singh had previously abstained from taking the oath in 2018 when another AIMIM member was appointed as a pro tem Speaker.

The appointment of a pro tem Speaker follows the protocol of selecting the senior-most legislator in the state Assembly. Akbaruddin Owaisi, now in his sixth term as an MLA from the Chandrayangutta constituency, has assumed this role, leading to allegations from Raja Singh of a violation of Assembly rules.

Accusing the government of appeasement politics, Singh argued that there were more deserving candidates for the position, insinuating that the decision was driven by an attempt to cater to minorities. Telangana BJP President G Kishan Reddy expressed opposition, stating, “The BJP opposes the appointment of AIMIM’s Akbaruddin Owaisi as pro-tem Speaker.”

In response, State Congress spokesperson Chamala Kiran Kumar Reddy defended the appointment, emphasizing that the pro tem Speaker is a constitutional matter and should be determined based on seniority, irrespective of political affiliation. Reddy urged against polarizing communities for political survival, asserting, “We don’t have to polarize a community to survive in politics.”

A delegation of seven BJP members has approached Raj Bhawan in Hyderabad to meet the Governor, seeking to condemn the appointment of Akbaruddin Owaisi as Pro-tem Speaker. In a memorandum submitted to Governor Soundararajan, the BJP MLAs-elect expressed strong objections, alleging a “blatant violation of procedures, protocols, and precedents.”

The BJP delegation has requested the Governor to intervene and instruct the government to appoint the most senior member, regardless of party affiliation, as a pro tem Speaker. Failure to address their concerns could lead BJP members to refrain from taking the oath in front of a Speaker appointed against established norms.

What is Pro-Tem Speaker?

In the parliamentary system, the Pro-Tem Speaker plays a crucial role in overseeing the initial proceedings following a general election and the formation of a new administration. The Legislative Section of Parliament compiles a list featuring the most experienced members of the Lok Sabha. This list is then handed over to the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, who submits it, along with a letter seeking approval from the President, for the appointment of the interim Speaker.

The Pro-Tem Speaker takes charge during the first meeting subsequent to the election, overseeing the selection of both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker by the Parliament members. In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker assumes the role, and if both are unavailable, a committee of six members, designated by the Speaker based on their seniority, steps in as the acting Speaker.

Duties of Pro-Tem Speaker

During the inaugural session of the Lok Sabha, the Pro-Tem Speaker presides over proceedings and administers the oath to newly elected Members of Parliament. Their duties extend to supervising the elections of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The role of the Pro-Tem Speaker ceases with the appointment of a new Speaker. Additionally, the Pro-Tem Speaker is responsible for conducting the floor test to ensure the stability of the newly formed government.

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