A year ago, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar would make herself heard whenever she would want to.
That was when some scribes wondered how the 65-year old member from Sasaram in Bihar would handle a volatile House and its aggressive MPs.
As she completes a year in office on Thursday, the daughter of Babu Jagjivan Ram showed — as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once said — a “steely” firmness in doing so.
In fact, she won praise for letting the Opposition’s cut motion on the demands for grants that were to be guillotined during the Budget session and for insisting that ministers reply during Question Hour even if the MPs in whose names the queries are listed are absent.
“The Speaker’s authority actually emanates from his or her neutrality,’’ Kumar told HT on Wednesday. And it wasn’t necessary to resign from a party to ensure this, she added.
Spelling out her objective, Kumar said, “I want the image of Parliament and parliamentarians to be very high(sic)…At times there are challenges…As Speaker it devolves on me to ensure that its dignity and stature gets strengthened.’’
If she was worried over disruptions, she also had the satisfaction of knowing that a majority wants the House to run.
In an interview to Lok Sabha TV to be aired on Thursday, Kumar, in deference to her high office, refused to comment on speculation of her return to active politics, opening standing committees to media or on a subquota for women though she saw the women’s bill as “good’’ for their empowerment.
The former diplomat became an MP in 1985, a cabinet minister in 2004 and an inspiration to the country when she was appointed the first woman, Dalit Speaker in 2009.
So does she miss active politics? “I’m not in the habit of looking back… Life is never static; it moves on,’’ she said.