New Delhi, Aug. 20: Sushma Swaraj and Jagadambika Pal swapped their Lok Sabha seats today, but to opposite effects. One raised eyebrows, the other caught the eye as “Prime Minister material”.
Opposition leader Sushma had the treasury benches agog when she briefly took the seat meant for Manmohan Singh. She had crossed the aisle to enquire about home minister Sushil Shinde, who had a surgery recently. The Congress’s Pal grabbed attention as he presided over the House from Speaker Meira Kumar’s chair — his maiden chance to do so.
Pal, though, is no stranger to big chairs: he was Uttar Pradesh chief minister 15 years ago — all for three days.
The Lok Sabha has a chairman to stand in when the Speaker and the deputy Speaker aren’t present. Pal was brought in after the Congress’s Girija Vyas became minister.
“This House has a long tradition of not disturbing a new member making his maiden speech,” Pal said, drawing laughter amid the din over missing coal files and Telangana. He succeeded, but only for seven minutes, after which he had to adjourn the House.
The effort, though, wasn’t lost on all. Rivals patted Pal, with BJP MP Kirti Azad later heard calling him “PM material”.