Ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Member of Legsilative Assembly P Dhanapal on Wednesday became the first Dalit Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly and said he would strive to uphold the ethos of the House.
Party supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa led the assembly in greeting the 61 year-old Dhanapal, who was elected unopposed.
Pro-tem Speaker C K Thamizharasan announced election of Dhanapal, who represents Rasipuram in the assembly, amidst loud thumping of benches by AIADMK members.
The election to the post of Speaker was necessitated following the resignation of D Jayakumar recently, which was viewed as a surprise development.
Dhanapal had served as a minister during the 2001-06 AIADMK rule for a brief period. Hailing from an agricultural background, he has been elected to the assembly four times earlier between 1977 and 2006.
J Shivashanmugam Pillai, a Dalit, was the Speaker of the erstwhile Madras state from 1946-55.
Jayalalithaa said her party colleague was the first Dalit MLA to be elected Speaker of the state assembly elected unopposed and expressed "great joy" over it.
"In this historic House, you have created history," she said. Jayalalithaa recalled that Dhanapal had served the party since its founding by late M G Ramachandran in 1972 an described him as a leader who moved closely with people.
She expressed confidence that he would uphold the ethos of the House.
Deputy Leader of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam Legislature Panrutty S Ramachandran also heaped praises on the new Speaker.
DMK Legislature wing leader M K Stalin assured his party's cooperation to the Speaker.
In his acceptance speech, Dhanapal assured that he would work in a non-partisan manner and strive to uphold the ethos of the House.
Earlier, as per the assembly protocol, Dhanapal was led to the Speaker's chair by Leader of the House and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam and Ramachandran.
Ramachandran did the honours in the absence of his party founder and Opposition leader Vijayakant. DMK chief M Karunanidhi was the other absentee.
The AIADMK, boasting 151 MLAs, was represented in full strength.
DMDK leader Ramchandran remarked "Royapuram's loss is Rasipuram's gain," hinting at exit of Jayakumar, who represents Royapuram constituency.