Two-term BJP MP Om Birla set to become Speaker of 17th Lok Sabha

BJP MP Om Birla | Wikipedia
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Om Birla is set to become the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha after Wednesday's election.

Birla, 57, is a two term Lok Sabha Member of Parliament. He won from Rajasthan’s Kota-Bundi seat in the just concluded general election. Birla has been a three-term legislator in the Rajasthan Assembly.

Not just BJP's allies in the National Democratic Alliance, but parties such as the Biju Janata Dal, YSR Congress and others are also likely to support his candidature.

Birla’s nomination by the BJP leadership as the party's candidate for the Speaker’s post suggests that it is rewarding 'humble workers' who have come up through the ranks.

With Birla’s nomination, the National Democratic Alliance has departed from the decade-and-a-half old trend of nominating an experienced parliamentarian to the post.

In 2004, 10-term Lok Sabha MP Somnath Chatterjee was elected as the Speaker. Five-term Lok Sabha MP Meira Kumar succeeded him in 2009 while eight-term MP Sumitra Mahajan was elected the Lok Sabha speaker in 2014.

However, there have been exceptions to this as well. When Manohar Joshi was elected as Lok Sabha Speaker in 2002, he was a first-time MP but had spent nearly two decades as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council and Assembly. Joshi succeeded GMC Balayogi, a second-time MP, who had died in a helicopter crash.

Indira Gandhi-led Congress party nominated Balram Jakhar, a debutante Lok Sabha MP, the Speaker in 1980. Jakhar remained the Speaker for two terms – from 1980 to 1984 and again from 1984 to 1989. He was a two-term Punjab Assembly member before he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980.

Birla is a commerce postgraduate educated at the Government Commerce College, Kota and MDS University, Ajmer. He was elected to the Rajasthan Assembly in 2003, 2008 and 2013 and served as a minister of state in the Vasundhara Raje government.

Birla is a quintessential party worker and quite active in the BJP’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He is also associated with the cooperative movement in Rajasthan and helped launch the ‘Super Bazar’ scheme while serving as the vice chairman of the National Cooperative Consumer Association Limited.

In his profile on the Lok Sabha website, Birla states he was imprisoned in Uttar Pradesh due to active participation in the Ram Mandir movement. He also identifies himself as a primary member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

“Asked more than 500 questions in the 13th Rajasthan Legislative Assembly and his name was included in “Sadan ke Sitaare” at least 6 times for participating in debates in the House,” Birla states in his profile.