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Congress may seek vote division only if TMC offers support

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NEW DELHI: K Suresh , a Dalit neta of Congress and the senior-most MP in Lok Sabha, filed nomination for the Speaker's post, forcing an election to the top chair after the opposition protested the government's refusal to concede the deputy Speaker's post to the opposition.

Suresh will cross swords with Om Birla, who is NDA nominee for the post, with the poll scheduled for Wednesday. The opposition had announced it was ready for a consensus on Speaker if the government respected parliamentary conventions and gave the deputy's chair to the rival camp.

Suresh has been the focus of a controversy in recent days, after government "overlooked" him for the pro tem Speaker's post and appointed BJP MP Bhartruhari Mahtab instead.

INDIA bloc allies met at Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge's residence for an hour late Tuesday, where parties emphasised the need to convey a strong message to govt. While opposition has fielded a candidate as a "mark of protest", it may seek a division of votes only if TMC , which has alleged non-consultation on the issue, assures support Wednesday morning.

Govt interlocutor and defence minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Kharge late Monday to seek support, but refused to assure him on the deputy's post. Congress said the govt offer that "support us for Speaker now and we will discuss deputy Speaker later" was not acceptable in view of "Modi's track record".

Reminding Modi of his public call for "governance through consensus" at the start of the session on Monday, an agitated Rahul Gandhi lashed out at him to signal that the opposition was not ready to compromise without adequate compensation.

"PM Modi's words have no credibility because his intent is not clear. He speaks of constructive cooperation but undermines parliamentary conventions. But this formula will not work anymore," Rahul said on the stairs of Parliament building on Tuesday.

Congress said Modi ran the 17th Lok Sabha without a deputy Speaker while in 16th Lok Sabha, he gave it to BJP's "covert ally", while the post went to an opposition MP under Manmohan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and P V Narasimha Rao.
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