Panaji, May 4 (IANS) The Congress here on Saturday accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to play “petty politics” with the office of Speaker and claimed Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was working to appoint a pro-tem Speaker of his choice to settle scores with his BJP arch rival Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, currently facing a disqualification petition.
Addressing the media, State Congress chief Girish Chodankar said with a Deputy Speaker already in place there was no ostensible reason to appoint a pro-tem Speaker and it would amount to “misuse” of the constitutional office of Speaker.
“They wanted to conduct the Speaker’s election on May 20. The idea was done away with because of pressure that built up after the plan got leaked. Now they have come up with another idea of a pro-tem Speaker. The Chief Minister is desperate to have a pro-team Speaker. His target is his political rival Vishwajit Rane. The Chief Minister wants to get him disqualified,” Chodankar said.
A pro-tem Speaker is chosen from among legislators to officiate in a newly-elected House and facilitate the Speaker’s election.
The Speaker’s post fell vacant, after Sawant was appointed Chief Minister of the BJP-led coalition government following death of Manohar Parrikar on March 17.
Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo is officiating as Speaker, but his recent tirade against the BJP leadership has generated a trust deficit between Lobo and senior BJP leaders.
Lobo’s office is hearing disqualification case against three BJP legislators and is expected to rule against Rane on May 22. Rane had quit the Congress and joined the BJP soon after the 2017 Assembly poll results were announced.
The Chief Minister and Rane share adjoining constituencies — Sanquelim and Valpoi — in North Goa, and have shared an active political rivalry for nearly a decade.
Chodankar also said the trust deficit between Lobo and the state BJP leadership had forced the BJP to appoint a pro-tem Speaker before the disqualification ruling is announced.
Sawant has, however, denied the Congress claims, stating while appointing a Speaker was necessary, his government had not taken a formal decision on the same. “There was a discussion about electing a Speaker, but no decision has been taken on a government level,” he said.