Scouting for partners in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP-led NDA is said to have offered the post of the Lok Sabha deputy speaker to Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK – raising the hackles of the Congress.
“Parliamentary convention since 1977 is that the deputy speaker’s post goes to the opposition party. The UPA stuck to the tradition in 2004 and 2009 by giving the post to the BJP. Let us see what the BJP does now,” a senior Congress leader said.
Short of numbers in the council of states, the BJP government is extending an olive branch to regional leaders, including Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik.
Sources said the Narendra Modi government is favourably inclined to Patnaik’s demand for a special economic package for Odisha. However, Bihar, which first raised the special category status, is unlikely to get a generous economic package from the Centre.
If Jayalalithaa accepts the BJP offer, AIADMK parliamentary party leader M Thambidurai – who has held the deputy speaker’s post earlier too - is the likely choice for the post.
Political circles are rife with speculation that the NDA government is considering the possibility of sending expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh as the governor of Tamil Nadu. Singh is believed to share a good rapport with Jayalalithaa.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has emerged as a front-runner for the post of the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. While the Congress with 44 MPs is struggling to get the post in the Lok Sabha, the party has the required numbers in the Rajya Sabha.