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We were not consulted on Speaker's choice: Fernandes

By Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI, MAY 30. The National Democratic Alliance will meet here on Tuesday on the eve of the Parliament session to discuss its floor strategy. It is possible that the NDA may challenge the ruling United Progressive Alliance's candidature of the veteran Communist Party of India (Marxist) parliamentarian, Somnath Chatterjee, as the Lok Sabha Speaker, on the ground that the Opposition was not consulted "as is the norm."

Asked about this here today, the NDA Convenor and Janata Dal (United) president, George Fernandes, said, "The Speaker is always decided after mutual discussions. The convention is to consult the opposition but for first time we've seen that this was not done."

On speculation that the Opposition might field the Nationalist Trinamool Congress leader and former Speaker, P.A. Sangma, Mr. Fernandes said it had not been discussed in the NDA so far. On the possible candidate for the post of Deputy Speaker, he said it was normally held by the Opposition but on this too there had been no talks.

Asked about this, the BJP spokesman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqui, told The Hindu that the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting on Tuesday would decide whether there should be a contest for the Speaker's post. He too said that the United Progressive Alliance had not consulted the Opposition on the issue.

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