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Om Birla Named NDA’s Candidate for Lok Sabha Speaker for Second Term

Image Source: indianexpress.com

In the 18th Lok Sabha, where the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi fell short of a majority with 240 seats, the party has chosen Om Birla as the next Speaker of the Lower House. Birla met with Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday, a day before the election for the Lok Sabha Speaker.

The Opposition has nominated K Suresh, a Dalit leader from the Congress party and an eight-time MP, making this the first contested Speaker election since Independence. This decision followed Rahul Gandhi’s announcement that Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge had communicated to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh that the Opposition would support the government’s Speaker candidate if the government accepted an Opposition leader as Deputy Speaker, as per tradition. However, Kharge did not receive a response from the government, which Gandhi interpreted as a lack of interest in constructive cooperation from Prime Minister Modi.

Despite this, the NDA’s numbers favor Birla’s election as Speaker. If elected, Birla would join the ranks of only three others who have served more than one term as Speaker: M A Iyengar (six years and 22 days), Gurdial Singh Dhillon (six years and 110 days), and Balram Jakhar (nine years and 329 days). G M C Balayogi served two terms but did not complete a full term due to his untimely death in 2002.

Birla, a BJP MP from Kota in Rajasthan, entered Parliament in 2014 and was unanimously elected as Lok Sabha Speaker on June 19, 2019, during his second term. As Speaker, he oversaw a House with a BJP absolute majority and witnessed the highest number of MP suspensions in a single session, with 100 MPs suspended between December 14 and 21, 2023.

During his tenure from 2014 to 2019, Birla asked over 500 questions in the Lok Sabha. He has also been elected as an MLA three times in Rajasthan (2003, 2008, 2013). Born in 1962, Birla began his public life early, becoming president of the students’ union at Government Senior Secondary School, Gumanpura, in 1979. He served as the Kota district president of the BJP’s youth wing, the BJYM, from 1987 to 1991, and as the Rajasthan president of BJYM from 1993 to 1997. Birla has been involved in various political movements, including those for an IIT in Kota and for Chambal water provision to Bundi district, and in relief work following the 2001 Bhuj earthquake.

Birla has also held positions as director of Coal India, chairman of the Rajasthan State Cooperative Consumer Association, and vice president of the National Cooperative Consumer Association. He participated in the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation and holds an MCom degree from Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer. Married to Amita Birla since 1991, he has two daughters.

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