Om Birla, a two-time lawmaker of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was today elected as the Speaker of the new Lok Sabha.
The motion to choose Birla, 57, a lawmaker from Rajasthan, as the Speaker was moved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also Leader of the Lok Sabha, and passed by a voice vote, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
"That Shri Om Birla, a member of the is House, be chosen as the Speaker of this House," read the motion which was seconded by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Main opposition Congress and its ally Dravida Munnetra Kazagham backed Birla as the Speaker, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
A surprise choice for the post of Speaker of the BJP, Birla, who won his first Lok Sabha election in 2014 and was again elected this year from Rajasthan's Kota-Bundi seat, succeeds 76-year-old Sumitra Mahajan who was the Speaker in the previous Lok Sabha.
Congratulating Birla on his election as Lok Sabha Speaker, Modi said “it is a matter of great pride for the House and recalled having worked with him in the BJP organisation for a long time,” according to the New Delhi correspondent.
Modi said Birla’s life has been devoted to social service adding “I cannot forget how he stayed in Kutch, Gujarat, for months when that part of Gujarat was affected by a devastating quake.”
Om Birla is a relative newcomer for the post traditionally held by seniors and his choice as Speaker was facilitated by his proximity to to both Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah.
This is not the first time that a relative newcomer has occupied the post of Speaker. In 1996, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader G M C Balayogi, also a two-time MP then, was elected to the post.
A grassroot politician and holder of Master’s degree in Commerce Om, Birla rose from the ranks begnning his political journey as a student leader of the BJP’s frontal wing and was elected to the Rajasthan state assembly for three consecutive terms in 2003, 2008 and 2013.
From 1991 to 2003, he was a key leader in the BJP’s frontal outfit Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) as a state-level president first and then as a vice-president at the national level.
According to Birla’s profile on the Lok Sabha website, Om Birla is a member of the RSS and was jailed during the BJP’s movement for Ram temple at the site of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya.