Om Birla, a newbie to the Speaker's chair held by veterans so far
Lok Sabha’s new speaker, Om Birla, a two-time BJP MP from Rajasthan, is a relative newcomer for the post traditionally held by seniors.
A surprise pick by the ruling BJP-led NDA, Birla’s name was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself for the post, sources said. The 56-year-old leader is considered to be close to both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
Birla’s nomination for the Lok Sabha speakers post also has the backing of non-NDA parties such as the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Starting his political journey as a student leader, Birla was also elected to the Rajasthan Assembly for three consecutive terms in 2003, 2008 and 2013.
He won his first Lok Sabha election in 2014 and was again elected this year from Rajasthan’s Kota-Bundi seat. Birla defeated Congress’ Ramnarayan Meena with a margin of over 2.5 lakh votes in the recently-concluded general election.
A conscientious parliamentarian, Birla has registered an 86 per cent average attendance in the House, asked 671 questions, participated in 163 debates and introduced six private members bills in the 16th Lok Sabha.
From 1991 to 2003, he was a key leader in the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) as a state-level president first and then, as a vice-president at the national level.
Birla, who holds a master’s degree in commerce, is a member of the Standing Committee on Energy in Parliament, the Committee on Petitions and the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
He succeeds eight-time MP Sumitra Mahajan as the Lok Sabha speaker, a post traditionally held by senior MPs.
However, this is not the first time that a relative newcomer has occupied the position. In 1996, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader G M C Balayogi, also a two-time MP then, was elected as the speaker in the Lower House of Parliament.
After his death in a helicopter crash in 2002, Shiv Sena leader and first-time MP Manohar Joshi was appointed to the position.