In a unanimous election, in conformity with the convention that marked assumption of the high office by 16 of his predecessors, BJP nominee Om Birla was on Wednesday elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Eleven notices for moving motions for Birla’s election, given by different parties, had been received. Pro tem Speaker Virendra Kumar allowed the Congress and the DMK to also propose Birla’s candidature, even though their notices had been received a little past the deadline on Tuesday.
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said: “I, on behalf of the government and the treasury benches, assure you of full support in conducting the House. I also assure you that your order will prevail and you must be tough even if anyone from our side (treasury benches) crosses the limit.”
Modi recalled that Birla had joined politics during his student days in his hometown Kota, Rajasthan. He told the House that the new Speaker ran a charity engaged in providing food to the poor, and woolens to the needy in winters. During the 2011 earthquake in Gujarat’s Bhuj and the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand, Birla had rendered assistance to victims by mobilising his own teams, the Prime Minister recalled.
“Personally, I remember working with Om Birla-ji for a long time,” Modi said. Referring to the emergence of Kota from a city tucked in a corner of Rajasthan as a centre of education, he said this had been due to Birla’s “contribution and initiative.”
The Prime Minister observed that Birla had a smiling disposition and spoke mildly. “Therefore,” he added, “I fear someone may take an undue advantage of it.”
Previously, Modi said, three or four years of a government’s term used to pass off peacefully and “trouble began in the election year”, but now elections approach after every three or four months, so the “message” is being sent across “from here”.
Birla said he would run the House in an impartial manner. While asserting that the Chair should not be biased, he assured the members that he would preside over the proceedings in accordance with rules and regulations, and “safeguard the interests of the members, irrespective of the strength of their parties in the House”.
Lauding Prime Minister Modi for running a transparent government, Birla said that considering the way people had reposed their faith in it, he expects the government to be “more responsible and answerable in the House”.
Everyone should be heard and the government should respond to them, he said.
He sought cooperation from all members for smooth functioning of the House. “I have been a member like you from 2014 to 2019, and we should raise the issues which matter to the last person standing in the row,” Birla said.
Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said: “Regional parties and the minorities always have less numbers in this House…. I would request you that the minorities, regional parties and states with small numbers be given more time.”