New Delhi:A watchful Parliament forms the foundation of a well-functioning democracy. The presiding officers of Parliament are the key to securing the effectiveness of this institution. The MPs look to them to facilitate debate, protect their rights and uphold the dignity of Parliament. On Wednesday, Lok Sabha MPs are set to elect one amongst themselves, to play the pivotal role of the presiding officer for the 17th Lok Sabha.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who moved the motion for his election, personally led him to the Speaker’s chair after the formalities were over.”Jan Seva (public service) has been the focal point of the politics of Om Birla. He is a compassionate leader who will preside over the sittings of the House,” PM Modi said.
Commending the lawmaker, the Prime Minister said: “The work that you have done, the manner in which you have dedicated your life for the benefit of the nation in all your years as a legislator and a parliamentarian, is commendable”.
Om Birla, 56, whose nomination to the post of Lok Sabha Speaker has come as a surprise, is a two-time BJP MP from Kota in Rajasthan. He had represented the Kota South Assembly seat for three terms, and is a commerce graduate from the Government College, Kota.
As a prominent Vaishya face in the BJP’s State unit, Mr. Birla has a background of managing cooperative societies in Rajasthan and Gujarat. This may have worked as a factor for his selection. He had been the chairperson of the Rajasthan Rajya Sahakari Upbhokta Sangh from 1992 to 1995 and vice-president of the National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India in New Delhi.
Mr. Birla’s association with BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi started even before the latter came to power in Gujarat. Considered a loyalist of Mr. Modi, Mr. Birla sought votes in the Prime Minister’s name during his 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign. He said in several election rallies that every vote cast for him would “facilitate another term for Mr. Modi” as the Prime Minister. Mr. Shah launched the social media campaign for elections from Kota. Mr. Birla is known within the BJP for his strategies and skills for booth management.
The low-profile politician also enjoys proximity with BJP working president J.P. Nadda, who was the chief of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in the early 1990s, when Mr. Birla was his colleague as a BJYM office-bearer. Mr. Birla later served as the BJYM State unit president for several years.
Mr. Birla won the 2019 Lok Sabha election by defeating Congress candidate and former MP Ramnarayan Meena by a margin of 2.5 lakh votes. In 2014, he had defeated the sitting Congress MP and scion of the erstwhile royal family, Ijyaraj Singh.He has been active in politics since his student life, when he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He won his first Assembly election in 2003, when he defeated Congress stalwart Shanti Dhariwal in Kota South. He was the Parliamentary Secretary with the rank of Minister of State in the Vasundhara Raje government during 2003-08.Mr. Birla has his share of controversies. His former private secretary Mahendra Gautam alleged last year that Mr. Birla was involved in illegal and corrupt activities. Mr. Gautam sought security, citing threat to his life and that of his family members. Birla. The Rajasthan High Court earlier this year dismissed a case of disproportionate income and possession of benami properties originally filed by Mr. Gautam against Mr. Birla.