Congress leader and former Union minister C P Joshi was on Wednesday elected as the Speaker of the 15th Rajasthan Assembly with consensus of all parties.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot acknowledged Joshi’s long history in the party, state and at the Centre. “I am happy that not only the ruling party but the Opposition, and all parties, BSP, BPT, RLTP, CPM, and Independents supported your candidature. You have been chosen with consensus, and when you are chosen with consensus, your responsibility increases… I hope Opposition will have no complaints,” he said.
However, fireworks soon began with Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLTP) chief Hanuman Beniwal accusing former Speaker Kailash Meghwal of alleged discrimination, during the vote of thanks. Beniwal said that he hoped that the Chair will take care of smaller parties like RLTP and said that MLAs were ejected from the House when Meghwal was the Speaker. As he levelled more allegations and accusations, his comments were expunged from the proceedings.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore protested Beniwal’s comments, saying that they hurt the dignity of the occasion, while Vasudev Devnani, also of the BJP, said that such things should not be talked about on such occasions.
When his turn came, Congress rebel turned Independent MLA Sanyam Lodha too said that the Chair was misused, to which Rathore shot back, saying that there can’t be a comment on the Chair. Lodha, however, said that his comments were not directed at someone. He also pointed out that there are supposed to be at least 60 sittings of the Assembly in a year “but it is unfortunate that be it the BJP or Congress the sittings have not crossed 30”.
While initially appearing to bridge the ground, Health Minister Raghu Sharma then said that traditions have been broken in the past and hence, under the new Speaker, there are expectations that the rules will be duly followed. However, he too brought up the controversy surrounding Meghwal refusing to call a session of the ongoing Assembly, while he was still the Speaker. Joshi then said, “We should let bygones be bygones and talk about new ideas.”
Acknowledging the vote of thanks, Joshi said that there is a need to do a lot of work for Rajasthan, considering
its changing demography and diverse geography.