The motion to choose Birla as the speaker was moved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also Leader of the House, and passed by a voice vote. His candidature was supported by Congress, DMK, Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK, YSR Congress among other parties.
Birla, 56, will take over from eight-term MP Sumitra Mahajan, who did not contest the Lok Sabha elections. Birla’s election to the post was certain given the numbers of the ruling NDA in the House and the absence of any other candidate.
Congratulating Om Birla, Modi in Lok Sabha recounted his contribution in the progress of the country. “I on behalf of the government and the treasury benches assure you 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 said. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary also extended whole-hearted support to Birla, urged him to be impartial and give enough time to the opposition to raise issues of public interest.
Calling Birla a “compassionate and ever-smiling leader”, Modi said, “Om Ji represents Kota, a place that is mini-India, a land associated with education and learning. He has spent a number of years serving the public. Not just Rajasthan, his contribution has always been valued across the nation. I remember during the Bhuj earthquake, Birla was a strong helping hand. Similar was the case during Kedarnath tragedy.”
Active in student politics from a young age, Birla is a grassroots-level politician who has risen through the BJP youth ranks. Birla, who represents the Kota-Bundi constituency in Lok Sabha, had previously served for three terms in the Rajasthan Assembly. He forayed into politics at the age of 17 and served as district president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the party, for four years. Later he was appointed as its state president from 1991-97, and eventually the youth wing’s national vice president for six years.
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According to his profile on the Lok Sabha website, he is a member of the RSS, was imprisoned during the Ram Temple movement, and in 2001, led a team of 100 volunteers, including doctors, following the earthquake in Gujarat. He was arrested in Uttar Pradesh due to his active participation in Ram Mandir construction movement.
Birla is also a member of the Standing Committee on Energy in Parliament, member of Committee on Petitions and Consultative Committee for the ministry of social justice and empowerment.
Birla’s nomination came as a surprise to many. However, this will not be for the first time a relative newcomer will hold the position. In 1996, TDP leader CM Balayogi was also a two-time MP when he was elected as the LS Speaker and after his death in a helicopter crash in 2002, Shiv Sena leaders and the first-time MP Manohar Joshi was appointed to the position.