Veteran BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan, a battle-hardened leader who has risen from the ranks, was Friday unanimously elected Speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha, becoming the second woman to occupy the prestigious position after her predecessor Meira Kumar.
71-year-old Mahajan, the longest-serving woman MP, was elected after adoption of a motion moved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and seconded by BJP veteran L K Advani by voice vote called by Protem Speaker Kamal Nath.
13 similar motions proposed and seconded by several parties in the ruling NDA as also in the opposition supporting Mahajan were also approved by the House.
Mahajan was led to the Speaker’s Chair by the Prime Minister, Advani, Anant Geete, M Thambidurai as also a number of opposition leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sudip Bandyopadhyay, besides Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.
Accepting the post graciously, Mahajan said the new assignment was a challenging one and that she would try to do
justice with all without letting down any member.
Modi congratulated Mahajan and thanked all parties and members for unanimously electing her and keeping up the great
tradition of electing the presiding officer without a contest.
Noting that the Speaker’s name “Sumitra” itself gives a feeling of friendliness, he said, “It is a matter of pride for
all of us that a woman is at the helm of the temple of world’s largest democracy and we hope that her guidance would help us
in the smooth conduct of the House.”
Terming her election as a “proud moment for our democracy”, the Prime Minister wished her the very best in her role as
Speaker and assured her “complete support and co-operation in the smooth running of the House.”
Kharge, Leader of Congress party in the Lok Sabha, suggested that Mahajan should take everyone along, amidst his
party’s expectations that the Speaker would grant him the Leader of the Opposition status, a Cabinet-rank position.
“Hayat le ke chalo, kaynat le ke chalo, zamane ko sath le ke chalo,” (let us embrace all, the whole universe, let us
keep the whole world as our company),” he said.
On Friday, the first question to the AAP was related to its “anti-national activities”.