CPI-M to pull out Speaker Chatterjee also

July 2nd, 2008 - 10:03 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Liz Mathew
New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Once it severs its ties with the ruling coalition over the India-US civil nuclear deal, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) will ask Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, a party MP, to quit his post, say party insiders. The CPI-M has decided that it along with three other Left parties will ask the Congress-led government to clarify its final position on the contentious deal on Friday. Once they get a specific reply - the Communists believe that the government has decided to go ahead with the nuclear pact - they would go to President Pratiha Patil to inform her of their withdrawal of support.

Fifty nine MPs of the CPI-M-led Left parties prop up the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Leaders of the four Left parties are meeting Friday.

Chatterjee became the speaker of the Lok Sabha as a nominee of the supporting party. The CPI-M feels that once the support is withdrawn, it will be inappropriate for Chatterjee to continue. The CPI-M’s decision to pull out the speaker is expected to put the government in an immediate crisis. If the government continues in power for the remaining part of its five-year tenure, a new speaker has to be elected.

The deputy speaker will continue to preside over the house proceedings till a new speaker is elected. The speaker’s role in a floor test is also crucial.

The ruling coalition has to get its own candidate to be elected as the new speaker. Though himself a member of the Lok Sabha, the speaker does not vote in the house except on those rare occasions when there is a tie at the end of a vote.

Till date, the speaker of the Lok Sabha has not been called upon to exercise a casting vote.

CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat has asserted that the Left would consider Manmohan Singh’s trip to Japan to attend the G-8 summit - during which he is expected to meet the US President George W. Bush and other leaders of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) - as an indication that the government is going ahead with the nuclear deal.

The prime minister is expected to leave for Japan Monday. India, along with other emerging economies like China, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico, are special invitees as outreach partners at the summit of the world’s top industrialized nations, known as the Group of 8 countries.

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