BJP coup lands Speaker's post in TDP lap
Rajesh Ramachandran in New Delhi
The Telugu Desam Party's Ganti Mohana Chandra Balayogi will be the new Lok Sabha Speaker.
Balayogi's nomination was proposed by Prime Minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee and seconded by Home Minister Lal Kishinchand Advani.
Clinching a deal with TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu on the eve of the Speaker's election, the Bharatiya Janata Party has caught its rivals -- the United Front and the Congress -- unawares.
Besides ensuring a friendly Speaker in a hung House, the deal may bring a semblance of stability to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, with the 12-member TDP swelling the BJP-led coalition's majority to 13.
Emboldened by the coup, BJP president Advani did not rule out the possibility of the TDP joining the saffron front.
Disclosing that negotiations were still on, Advani said the deal was clinched during talks held between Sunday night and Monday morning.
But the word was out at the weekend itself that the TDP would support the BJP.
Sources said the announcement of the tie-up was delayed till this morning as the details were still being worked out -- implying the BJP's nod to Balayogi's candidature.
A major shuffle of portfolios in the Vajpayee ministry is on the cards to accommodate the probable TDP entrants.
Lending credibility to the BJP claims is Naidu's resignation as UF convener. He is now trying to forge a TDP-National Conference-Asom Gana Parishad front. The NC has already decided to support the TDP nominee in the Speaker's election on Tuesday.
Announcing Balayogi's candidature, Union Parliamentary Affairs
Minister Madan Lal Khurana told the media that they had
filed two sets of nominations for the election.
The second nomination stood in favour of the TDP's Kinjarapu Yerran Naidu. It was proposed by the BJP's Ch Vidyasagar Rao and seconded by Khurana.
Replying to a spate of questions, Khurana said, ''Besides the
BJP's allies, some Independent and UF members have 'promised' to support the TDP nominee.''
He 'appealed' to the Congress to support Balayogi's candidature.
The rapid developments have stifled the Congress-United Front combine's prospects of seizing the Speaker's post -- they have fielded 11th Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma.
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