Somnath elected Lok Sabha speaker

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, June 4:

Somnath Chatterjee was unanimously elected speaker of the Lok Sabha today, a rare show of unity in a fractious house that gave him a standing ovation. By prearranged consensus, the house elected Chatterjee, 74, in a motion moved by chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance Sonia Gandhi, former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee and seconded by leader of the opposition LK Advani. Amid fulsome desk thumping and a lone shout of ‘Joy Bangla’, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Advani, and leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee, escorted Chatterjee to the speaker’s chair.

Chatterjee, however, faced his first test when the house witnessed bedlam over the induction of tainted ministers in the new government, prompting him to adjourn the house till Monday.

Soon after Chatterjee requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to introduce his council of ministers to the Lok Sabha, opposition leader LK Advani was on his feet objecting to the induction of tainted ministers. “Never has it happened that tainted ministers were introduced in the Lok Sabha,” Advani thundered, prompting all MPs of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to protest. Despite the speaker’s request to Advani to resume his seat, he and other BJP MPs insisted that the tainted ministers, including Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Coal and Mines Minister Shibu Soren, be dropped from the government. After failing to restore decorum, Chatterjee adjourned the house till Monday.