June 18, 2019
Om Birla, the Lok Sabha MP from Kota in Rajasthan, is likely to succeed Sumitra Mahajan as the Lok Sabha Speaker on Wednesday when election to the chair will be held. Om Birla’s impending elevation as the Lok Sabha Speaker is being viewed as another surprise from the hat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mahajan was an eight-term MP when she was elected as the Lok Sabha Speaker in 2014. Om Birla has won the Kota Lok Sabha seat for only the second time. But he will not be the first Lok Sabha MP with “such little experience in the House” to become the Lok Sabha Speaker, if elected.
TDP leader CM Balayogi was also a two-time MP when he was elected as the Lok Sabha Speaker in 1996. And, following his tragic death in a helicopter crash in 2002, he was succeeded by the first-time MP Manohar Joshi, a Shiv Sena leader.
But before becoming the Lok Sabha Speaker, Manohar Joshi had been a member of the legislative council and legislative assembly in Maharashtra. He was also the first non-Congress chief minister of the state.
Like Joshi, Om Birla has also served as a member of the legislative assembly. He was elected to Rajasthan assembly for three consecutive terms in 2003, 2008 and 2013 before contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha election. He was an MP from Kota in the 16th Lok Sabha.
He is considered one of the core loyalists of PM Modi. During the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Om Birla had told a national newspaper: “People should re-elect me for giving another term to Narendra Modi as the prime minister of India.” He did not seek vote for himself but for PM Modi in the election.
During the year-long build up to the Lok Sabha election, Om Birla had his share of controversy as well. In March 2018, Mahendra Gautam, a former secretary of Om Birla had sought police protection alleging he was facing threat to life from the Kota MP.
Gautam also filed a case against Om Birla accusing him of possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. The case was, however, dismissed by the Rajasthan High Court in April this year.
Once nominated, 57-year-old Om Birla’s election as the Lok Sabha Speaker will not be difficult. The BJP-led NDA has 353 members in the Lok Sabha. The BJP alone has 303 MPs in the House.
The Opposition has not yet declared any candidate for the post.