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Today in Politics: All eyes on NDA pick for Speaker post, INDIA bloc’s move; HC to rule on

The stage is set for the ruling BJP-led NDA to announce its candidate for the Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha on Tuesday, which would see the filing of nomination for the key post.

The BJP has already begun consultations with its NDA allies on their nominee for the Speaker’s post, which would be from the party. The Opposition INDIA bloc is also considering its options and may force a contest if their demand for a Deputy Speaker’s post for their nominee is not accepted by the Narendra Modi dispensation.

While the BJP kept its cards close to its chest, the INDIA camp indicated that it would take a call on its possible candidate for the Speaker’s post and a contest depending on the NDA’s stance.

Senior RSP MP N K Premachandran said the Opposition may contest for the Speaker’s post if the Modi government does not make any effort to build a consensus on the candidate. The RSP is an INDIA ally.

On Monday, the first day of the first session of the new Lok Sabha, the House saw a marked change. From just two rows of seats through the last decade, the Opposition was now occupying more than a third of the House benches.

The Opposition pulled out of the panel to assist the Pro tem Speaker, Bhartruhari Mahtab, in protest against appointing Mahtab, the seven-term MP from the BJP, while ignoring the claim of the eight-term MP from the Congress, Kodikunnil Suresh, for the position.

Among the front-runners for the Speaker’s post are BJP leaders Radha Mohan Singh, D Purandeswari and even Om Birla, the former Lok Sabha Speaker. The INDIA bloc may pitch for K Suresh as its candidate in the event of a contest. The NDA has 293 MPs in the House while the INDIA alliance has 233 MPs.

The Speaker’s election is scheduled for Wednesday. On Tuesday, the oath-taking process for the newly-elected MPs will continue in the House. On Monday, Prime Minister Modi and members of his Council of Ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah, took the oath as MPs.

HC verdict on Kejriwal bail

The Delhi High Court will pronounce on Tuesday its verdict on a plea by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking a stay on the trial court order granting bail to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the excise policy case.

In his written submission filed before the court on Monday, Kejriwal defended the bail order and asserted that no prejudice would be caused to the ED if he is released at this stage as he could be sent back to custody in case the high court subsequently decides to set aside the order.

Staying the operation of “the well-reasoned bail order” would amount to virtually allowing the petition for cancellation of the bail, Kejriwal argued.

A vacation bench of Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain had reserved the order on June 21 after the agency challenged the trial court’s decision, putting in abeyance the operation of the bail order till the pronouncement on the issue of stay.

The AAP chief, who was arrested on March 21 by the ED, could have walked out of Tihar jail had the high court not granted the interim relief to the central agency.

The trial court granted bail to Kejriwal on June 20 and ordered his release on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh, and imposed certain conditions, including that he will not try to hamper the investigation or influence the witnesses. The ED has contended that the trial court’s order was “perverse”, “one-sided” and “wrong-sided” and that the findings were based on irrelevant facts.

In its order granting bail to Kejriwal, the trial court, however, said the ED failed to furnish direct evidence linking him to the proceeds of crime in the money laundering case.

Kejriwal also moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s interim stay on his bail. On Monday, the apex court fixed June 26 for hearing his plea, saying it would like to wait for the pronouncement of the high court’s order on the issue.

Cong begins poll preps

The Congress on Monday began consultations for its strategy for the Jharkhand Assembly polls to be held later this year.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former party chief Rahul Gandhi began deliberations with leaders from Jharkhand during the strategy meeting. All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal was also present along with Jharkhand Congress chief Rajesh Thakur, AICC in charge Ghulam Ahmad Mir, and other senior party leaders like Ajoy Kumar.

The Congress’s strategy meet for Maharashtra and Haryana would take place on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Both these states are slated for the Assembly polls in October this year.

For Jammu and Kashmir, where the Assembly elections would take place before September, the Congress’s strategy meeting would be held on Thursday.

— With PTI inputs

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