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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

LS seating logjam may raise need for manual voting

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 25, 2014
First Published: 00:52 IST(25/7/2014) | Last Updated: 00:56 IST(25/7/2014)

The Lower House of Parliament is facing a strange issue — no party reportedly wants to sit next to the Congress. 

And this political undercurrent has resulted in a logjam in the allotment of seats to MPs in the Lok Sabha (LS).

BJD’s Bratruhari Mahtab, allotted a first row seat in front of the Congress bloc next to Sonia Gandhi, has already written three letters in the last seven days opposing the proposed allotment. 

This issue could affect the working of the House, as members should cast their votes using the electronic consoles fixed to their seats.

If the government managers fail to reach an amicable consensus on the seating arrangement, the LS may have to fall back to its age-old tradition of members voting manually through slips.

Other parties like the Trinamool Congress and the AIADMK, too, are averse to sitting near the Congress, said sources.

J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, an arch rival of the Congress, is set to bag the Deputy Speaker’s seat. Its leader Thambidurai will have to sit right next to Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

However, sources have said that the party has demanded their second seat is not near Sonia Gandhi to avoid sending out the wrong political message.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said on Wednesday, “Division numbers have been suggested to members by the Speaker’s Office. As some parties have given suggestions, the seats could not be allotted so far.”  In one of his letters to Lok Sabha secretariat, Mahtab requested not to proceed with “arbitrary allocation of seats”.

Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu met leaders of Trinamool, BJD and AIADMK to find a solution.

“There is a practical problem as well. If we sit in the Congress bloc, we will be cut off from our own party. Every time we have to walk up and down to coordinate with our own MPs,” said a Trinamool leader.


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