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After 52 years, Madhya Pradesh assembly gets ‘elected’ Speaker; Congress’s NP Prajapati wins contest

Bhopal: Narmada Prasad Prajapati was elected Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh assembly after an interesting turn of events on Tuesday. This is the first time in 52 years that the Speaker had to be elected and not chosen by consensus. Congress sources said the BJP forcing a contest in MP has made the party reconsider its decision to give the Deputy Speaker’s post to the Opposition, as has been the case since 1990. The Congress used this opportunity to test its numbers in the House and secured a majority. The BJP has 109 MLAs, the Congress has 114, independents hold four seats, BSP has two and SP has one MLA in the 230-member house. On Monday, the BJP had announced that it will put up tribal leader Kunwar Vijay Shah as candidate for the post of Speaker in the MP assembly. The procedure to elect the Speaker was to be done on Tuesday. When the House convened at 11 am, four Congress MLAs proposed the name of NP Prajapati as Speaker.
After this, the BJP wanted to propose Kunwar Vijay Shah as Speaker. At this, pro tem Speaker Deepak Saxena said that the first four proposals for Speaker should be examined and only then he would move to the BJP proposal after resolving the first four proposals. This was unacceptable for the BJP MLAs who trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans claiming murder of democracy. The House had to be adjourned three times for ten minutes each. Finally, when the House reconvened, former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that the BJP MLAs were staging a walkout to protest their proposal not being considered. Deepak Saxena then announced that NP Prajapati had been elected Speaker by all those who voted in favour. BSP MLA Sanjeev Singh then demanded a division of votes to which the Speaker agreed to. After the division of votes, NP Prajapati secured 120 votes excluding that of pro tem Speaker Deepak Saxena. NP Prajapati was first elected MLA in 1985 from Gotegaon constituency in Narsinghpur district. In Madhya Pradesh, the post of Speaker has always been decided by a consensusand without voting. It was only in 1967 that the Speaker was elected by voting. In 1990, then BJP CM Sunderlal Patwa decided to give the post of Deputy Speaker to the opposition. The tradition continued till 2018 but on Tuesday Congress leaders said that since the BJP has decided to give up on tradition by forcing a contest for Speaker, they too could consider doing away with the tradition of having a deputy speaker from the opposition. The deputy speaker has status of cabinet minister. “Deciding who will be deputy speaker is the prerogative of the leader of the Congress legislature party,” said former CM Digvijaya Singh when asked if the Congress will retain the post too, besides that of Speaker.

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