October 25, 2021

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LS Speaker Selection: Modi-Shah Duo gives preference to competence over seniority


Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah seen after NDA meeting in New Delhi.

BJP’s Om Birla has been elected speaker of Lok Sabha after his name was proposed by MPs of various parties.

There was no other candidate in the fray and the motion moved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to choose the Kota-Bundi MP as speaker was adopted by a voice vote.

Om Birla’s name was proposed by PM Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha and was supported by all major parties including Congress, TMC, DMK and BJD.

Prime Minister remembered his old association with the new speaker.

He remarked, “Personally, I remember working with Om Birla Ji for a long time. He represents Kota, a place that is mini-India, land associated with education and learning. He has been in public life for years. He began as a student leader and has been serving society since then without a break.”

Birla, who won his first Lok Sabha election in 2014, was again elected this year from Rajasthan’s Kota-Bundi seat.

By naming Rajasthan MP Om Birla as the NDA nominee for the post of the Lok Sabha Speaker, the duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah has sprung a surprise again as they forego seniority

Birla is a two-time Lok Sabha member from Kota in Rajasthan. His choice as the Speaker came as a surprise as the post is generally given to a leader who has substantial exposure of multiple terms in the lower house.

True to the Modi-Shah style, not many knew about their choice till the last moment.

But a number of factors went in his favour, said informed sources. He is close to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). His official residence in Delhi was often used for hosting RSS functions.

Birla is also close to Amit Shah as well as Prime Minister Modi from their early days.

The BJP President had launched the social media campaign for the Lok Sabha elections from Kota in 2018.

In terms of caste factor, Birla belongs to the Vaishya community, a section which has been a traditional BJP supporter but was antagonized because of the imposition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Birla’s nomination as Speaker is the party’s attempt to reach out to the community.

Within Rajasthan’s politics, Birla, who has been a MLA thrice from Kota South, is considered to be in the anti-Vasundhara Raje camp. Another Rajasthan leader, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, also known to be anti-Vasundhara, is in the Modi cabinet.

The BJP leadership went by the principal of commitment to party, organizational capability and ability to handle tough situations in elevating Birla for the coveted post, forgoing the seniority matrix.

Birla’s nomination for the Lok Sabha ticket from Kota, however, was strongly resisted by local BJP leaders after videos raising questions about his character went viral on social media though it did not affect his election prospects.

Modi and Shah are known for springing surprise decisions — be it in the appointment of non-Jat Manohar Lal Khattar as the Haryana Chief Minister or Devendra Fadnavis, a Brahmin, as Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Yogi Adityanath, head priest of the Gorakhnath sect, as the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister

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