Eight-time MP Sumitra Mahajan is Lok Sabha speaker
BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan, an eight-time parliamentarian who has not lost a Lok Sabha election since 1989, was Friday unanimously elected speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha.
The name of Mahajan, MP from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and seconded by BJP patriarch L.K. Advani.
Mahajan, 71, is the second woman speaker of the Lok Sabha after Meira Kumar, who as speaker presided over the 15th Lok Sabha.
Mahajan is one of the most experienced parliamentarians in Bharatiya Janata Party and has risen through the ranks. Genial and soft-spoken, Mahajan has earlier conducted house as a member of the speaker's panel.
Complimenting Mahajan over her election, Modi said it has taken place unanimously according to the highest traditions of parliament. He thanked all parties for their support.
"It is a matter of pride that in the world's biggest democracy, in this temple of democracy, a woman is the speaker. Your guidance will be valuable," the prime minister said.
Mahajan, in her speech, appealed to members for their cooperation.
"I appeal to everyone to hold discussions in a calm manner... Our parliament was known for good discussions. We have strayed from that, healthy discussions should be the norm now," she said.
Several leaders cutting across party lines, including Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, proposed and seconded Mahajan's name.
Pro tem Speaker Kamal Nath took up the motion of election of the speaker after some MPs, including BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi and Jagdambika Pal, took oath Friday.
Over 500 MPs took oath in a marathon process Thursday.
Kamal Nath said he has received 19 notices for election of the speaker, but three of these were received after the stipulated time.
Leaders from the Shiv Sena, AIADMK, Lok Janshakti Party, Shiromani Akali Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, YSR Congress Party, Biju Janata Dal and Trinamool Congress were among those who moved or backed motion for Mahajan's election as the speaker.
As there was no other candidate, Kamal Nath declared that the motion moved by the prime minister has been carried and Mahajan declared elected as the speaker.
He then invited Mahajan to assume her seat on the podium.
As Mahajan, who was sitting in the BJP front row, walked to her seat, she was accompanied by Modi and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu.
Several leaders, including Advani, Yadav, AIADMK's M. Thambidurai and Shiv Sena's Anant Geete, complimented Mahajan. Some of them went to the podium to greet her.
Modi said it was a matter of pride that Mahajan has risen from a member of the Indore Municipal Corporation and has been a public representative for several decades.
Wishing her well in her role as speaker, Modi assured her of the government's complete support and cooperation in the smooth running of the house.
"I have known Sumitra ji for years and have seen her dedication and monumental service towards people, be it as a MP or as a union minister," Modi later tweeted.
Kharge said that despite her seniority, Mahajan was one of its most punctual members of 15th Lok Sabha and sat till debates concluded.
"This had an impact on us also," he said.
Kharge said that Mahajan had a smiling demeanour and made remarks after thought and consideration.
Sudip Bandyopadhyay of the TMC said it was a common philosophy that "house belongs to opposition".
He said though the treasury benches commanded a comfortable majority, the opposition should not be taken for granted.
Bhartruhari Mahatab of the BJD also hoped that the new speaker will allow "the opposition to have their say".
Bandyopadhyay, Mahatab, Thambidurai referred to success of their parties in their states in the Lok Sabha elections.
(Posted on 06-06-2014)