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Om Birla's journey to Speaker's chair

June 19, 2019 16:04 IST

The 56-year-old leader is considered to be close to both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.

IMAGE: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla takes blessings of his father as he takes charge at his office in Parliament on Wednesday. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

The new Lok Sabha speaker, Om Birla, a two-time Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Rajasthan, is a relative newcomer for the post traditionally held by seniors.

A surprise pick by the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, Birla's name was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the post.

 

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 speaker's post also had the backing of non-NDA parties such as the Yuuvjana Shramika Rythu Congress Party and the Biju Janata Dal.

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's Ramnarayan Meena with a margin of over 2.5 lakh votes in the recently-concluded general election.

A conscientious parliamentarian, Birla registered an 86-per cent average attendance, 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 as a state-level president first and then, as a vice-president at the national level.

Birla, who holds a masters degree in commerce, was 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 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.

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