Om Birla, 56, is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s surprise pick for the Lok Sabha speaker’s post, his nomination confirming a generational change within the ruling party. Birla, a second-term Lok Sabha member from Rajasthan’s Kota, will succeed Sumitra Mahajan, 76, who served as the speaker during her eighth term in Parliament’s lower House before being omitted from the BJP’s slate in the April-May general elections. Birla is set to be elected unopposed after the Congress also moved a motion to support Birla as speaker. Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury confirmed this to reporters. Birla’s election was a foregone conclusion given that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has a clear majority of 353 members in the 543-member Lok Sabha. Election to the post is scheduled for Wednesday. WATCH | ‘Cong won’t oppose,’ says BJP as it names Om Birla as next LS SpeakerA three-term Rajasthan assembly member, Birla served as parliamentary secretary to the state government from 2004 to 2008. He is considered to be close to Union home minister and BJP chief Amit Shah.Birla has risen through the ranks. He was the national vice president of BJP’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). He also headed BJYM in Rajasthan for six years. Birla, a social worker, has worked for the welfare of differently abled people and women. He led a relief team of over 100 volunteers including doctors to help the victims of the January 2001 Gujarat earthquake. Birla was involved in the movement to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya in place of the demolished Babri Mosque in the 1990s. He was also imprisoned during the movement, which catapulted the BJP to power at the Centre in the late 1990s. Birla won his first national election in 2014. He retained his Lok Sabha seat as the BJP swept the April-May national polls in Rajasthan and won 24 out of the 25 seats in the state. The BJP bounced back in the state after losing the state to the Congress in December 2018.Also Read | From student leader to Lok Sabha Speaker: 10 points about Om BirlaThe BJP polled 58.47% votes in Rajasthan. It was the second highest percentage of votes the BJP received in any state after Himachal Pradesh. The overwhelming support the BJP got in Rajasthan is reflected in the Union council of ministers, which has three members from the state. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is a Cabinet minister while Arjun Ram Meghwal and Kailash Choudhary are ministers of state in the Union government. Birla is the fourth leader from the state to get a “position of prominence”, a BJP leader said.
First Published:
Jun 18, 2019 16:15 IST