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Posted at: Jun 19, 2019, 6:52 AM; last updated: Jun 19, 2019, 10:33 AM (IST)

Om Birla is surprise NDA pick for Speaker

UPA to back 2-term Kota MP | Election today

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18

The BJP leadership, primarily Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, continues to spring surprises, this time by fielding Kota-Bundi MP Om Birla as the NDA nominee for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker, triggering speculation over what he brings to the table.

Little known till yesterday, 57-year-old Birla received a loud cheer when he rose to take the oath as an MP today.

The NDA nominee is also being supported by non-NDA Biju Janata Dal and YSR Congress Party in the election slated for tomorrow. 

The Congress-led UPA too  decided to support Birla, saying it would await the government’s move on the election of Deputy Speaker, which conventionally goes to the Opposition.

Re-elected to the Lok Sabha for a second term, Birla defeated Congress’ Ramnarain Meena by over 2.5 lakh votes. Also a three-time MLA from Rajasthan, if elected, Birla will succeed eight-term MP Sumitra Mahajan as the Speaker — the sixth most important postions after the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister, Governors and former Presidents.

Normally, seniority is taken into account, but there have been instances when first-time and second-time MPs have been elected Speaker, like Manohar Joshi. Elected as Speaker in 2002, Joshi was then a first-time MP who succeeded GMC Balayogi, a second-time MP who died in a helicopter crash.

The BJP’s surprise pick triggered many theories like preference for generational change and the need for representation for his caste.

A ‘Bania’ (trader class) by caste, Birla is considered close to Shah from his “difficult times” and also Modi. Speculation is that his stature has also been elevated to give competition to former CM Vasundhara Raje, the strongest BJP leader in Rajasthan. Birla was a parliamentary secretary in the state from 2004 to 2008.

A successful businessman, Birla has earned the reputation of a social worker over the years. He was also imprisoned during the Ayodhya Ram temple movement.

As one of the core loyalists of PM Modi, he was quoted during the recent Lok Sabha elections as saying: “People should re-elect me for giving another term to Narendra Modi as the PM.”

However, he has also had his share of controversies. In March 2018, Mahendra Gautam, a former secretary, sought police protection alleging a threat to life from Birla. Gautam had also filed a case against Birla, accusing him of having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. The case was, however, dismissed by the Rajasthan High Court in April.

According to senior leaders, Birla’s nomination is an apt example of generational change under Modi and Shah, who have given opportunities to many leaders earlier considered outsiders in Delhi’s power corridors.

Yesterday, the BJP Parliamentary Board appointed Himachal strongman JP Nadda as its working president.


Adhir Ranjan to lead Cong in LS

New Delhi: The Congress has named 63-year-old West Bengal leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as the party leader in Lok Sabha. K Suresh, MP from Kerala, would be the chief whip. Chowdhury, a five-term MP from Baharampur, has also been a two-time MLA and a former chief of Bengal Congress. He is a known baiter of CM Mamata Banerjee. TNS


Considered close to PM Modi, Shah

  • A ‘Bania’ (trader class) by caste, Om Birla is considered close to both PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah
  • Started his political journey as a student leader and was imprisoned during the Ayodhya Ram temple movement
  • Was elected to Rajasthan Assembly for three consecutive terms in 2003, 2008 and 2013
  • Worked closely with Vasundhara Raje and was parliamentary secretary from 2004 to 2008

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