BJP’s Om Birla elected speaker of Lok Sabha, PM Modi calls him an ‘inspiration’
PM Modi promised Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla the complete cooperation of the treasury benches and asked him to be “tough even if anyone from our side crosses the line”.Updated: Jun 19, 2019 23:55 IST
National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Om Birla was on Wednesday unanimously elected speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha and pledged impartial oversight of the Lower House over the next five years after an acrimonious general election.
Birla, 56, a two-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Kota in Rajasthan, said in his first remarks after being elected unopposed that he will adhere to parliamentary rules and regulations in conducting the proceedings and “safeguard the interests of the members irrespective of the strength of their parties in the House”.
Birla, a surprise pick for the speaker’s post, said he expects the government to be “more responsible and answerable in the House”. He sought the cooperation of all parties in ensuring that the Lok Sabha functions smoothly in his tenure as speaker. “I have been a member like you from 2014 to 2019. And here we should raise the issues which matter to the last person standing in the row,” said Birla, who replaces Sumitra Mahajan, the eight-term BJP member of the Lok Sabha.
Watch: Kota BJP MP Om Birla elected speaker of Lok Sabha
PM Narendra Modi proposed the name of Birla, who started his political career as a student leader almost four decades ago. Home minister Rajnath Singh seconded the motion, which was passed unanimously by a voice vote.Birla was declared elected by pro tem speaker Virendra Kumar. His candidacy was backed by all major opposition parties including the Congress, the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, and its Tamil Nadu ally, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Thirteen more motions were pressed in support of Birla, but they weren’t taken up after the one moved by PM Modi was passed by the House.
Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) weren’t among the parties that pressed such motions . These parties said outside the House that they hadn’t been approached by the government to press motions of support for Birla. “We were never asked,which is unusual,” said BSP MP Danish Ali. Trinamool’s Lok Sabha floor leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said, “Nobody told us to give a motion in support of Om Birla. Otherwise we were ready to move such a motion.”
Trinamool’s Sudip Bandhopadhyay conveyed to the government his surprise at not been approached for the party’s support for Birla’s election
To be sure, Birla’s election was a foregone conclusion given the NDA’s commanding majority in the 543-seat Lok Sabha, where it has 353 members, 303 of them belonging to the BJP. The first session of Parliament after the elections began on June 17 and will end on July 26.
Modi, who escorted Birla to the speaker’s chair, was effusive in his praise of the Rajasthan leader for his track record in public service, recalling how he had spent months in Kutch, Gujarat, after the devastating 2001 earthquake in the state, and spoke about his initiative to make sure no one sleeps hungry in Kota. “Public service has been the focal point of the politics of Om Birlaji,” Modi said, describing him as an inspiration for the House.
In Birla’s new role as speaker, PM Modi promised him full support of the treasury benches.
Congress floor leader Adhir Chaudhary urged Birla to be fair and allot the Opposition enough time to raise issues of public interest. He also expressed concern over very few bills being referred to parliamentary standing committees by the Lok Sabha and called for a reversal of the trend, a concern echoed by Biju Janata Dal’s Pinaki Mishra.
TMC may boycott PM’s dinner for all first time LS members today. A senior Trinamool leader said, we are unlikely to attend it.
(With agency inputs)