The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance is reported to have chosen Om Birla, a Member of Parliament from Rajasthan’s Kota-Bundi constituency as its candidate for the Lok Sabha Speaker. News agency PTI, citing sources, said the NDA has narrowed down on Birla while some television reports confirmed he will file his nomination papers for the post later today. The election to elect a permanent Lok Sabha Speaker will be held on Wednesday.
Birla, 50, is a two-time Lok Sabha MP. He won first in 2014 general elections from Kota-Bundi and retained the seat in the recently concluded 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Prior to his election to the 16th Lok Sabha in 2014, he had represented Kota South assembly in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly thrice.
Birla had been active in politics since his college days. For 12 years since 1991, Birla had served as Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha’s Rajasthan unit president and then vice-president at the national level. Om Birla won his first assembly elections in 2003 and made Parliamentary Secretary (MoS rank) in then Vasundhara Raje government. In 2008 polls, he retained the seat, defeating Congress’ Ram Krishan Verma by a margin of 24,300 votes. In 2013 elections, he again won from Kota South. However, he vacated the seat following his election to the Lok Sabha from Kota-Bundi constituency. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Energy in Parliament, member of Committee on Petitions and Consultative Committee for Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The election of Birla will mark an end to a decade long era that saw two women MPs serving as the Lok Sabha Speaker. In 2009, Congress’ Sasaram MP Meira Kumar was elected to the post, thus becoming the first woman to oversee the functioning of the Lower House. In 2014, when BJP stormed to power with a brute majority, the government made Indore MP Sumitra Mahajan as the Speaker.
Meanwhile, BJP’s oldest ally Shiv Sena has demanded the deputy Speaker’s post. The party said that it is the second largest constituent of the NDA and thus it has the right to claim for the chair.
In the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 303 seats on its own, 31 more than the halfway mark required to form government. The NDA secured over 350 seats.