Seven-time MP and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bhartruhari Mahtab was on Thursday named as the protem Speaker of the Lok Sabha. He will hold the post till a full-time Speaker is elected on June 26.

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha will begin on Monday and will end on July 3.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju said that President Droupadi Murmu also appointed Lok Sabha MPs Suresh Kodikunnil, Thalikkottai Rajuthevar Baalu, Radha Mohan Singh, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Sudip Bandyopadhyay to assist Mahtab in administering the oath of office to the newly-elected MPs.

The Congress, however, contended that Mahtab’s appointment was contrary to the convention that the MP who has served the most number of terms should be named as the protem Speaker.

“The seniormost MPs in the 18th Lok Sabha are Kodikunnil Suresh [INC] and Virendra Kumar [BJP], both of who are now serving their 8th term,” Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said. “The latter is now a Union Minister and hence it was expected that Kodikunnil Suresh would be the Speaker Protem.”

Congress General Secretary in-charge of Organisation KC Venugopal said that Mahtab’s appointment was “yet another attempt” by the Union government to destroy parliamentary norms.

“It is an unquestioned norm that the senior most MP presides over the proceedings of the House before the Speaker is duly elected,” he said, adding that the government should explain the decision to “overlook K Suresh”.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha election, Mahtab won the Cuttack seat on a BJP ticket. He had represented the constituency six times earlier on a Biju Janata Dal ticket.

The 66-year-old switched to the BJP on March 28.