By naming Om Birla, the BJP MP from Kota-Bundi, as the NDA's candidate for the post of the Speaker of 17th Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, once again, exhibited their tendency to spring surprises when it comes to major decisions. No one had an inkling that Birla, a second-time MP from Rajasthan, would be chosen over veterans who are six-, seven- and eight-term veterans to chair the temple of Indian democracy.
However, Birla has rich experience in legislative functioning. He has been an MLA in the Rajasthan Assembly three times. He belongs to the influential Marwari Bania community, which has traditionally been a supporter of the BJP.
It was purely co-incidental that Birla was named the NDA's candidate for the Speaker's post around 12 hours after his old-time friend and party colleague JP Nadda was appointed the working president of the BJP. In the 1990s, Nadda was BJP's Yuva Morcha national president and Birla was the vice-president. They worked closely for years. Active and agile, Birla was always full of ideas and continued to serve as the youth wing vice-president with Nadda's successor Uma Bharti.
He entered politics as an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad — the student wing of the RSS — and has been a students' union president. Since then, he never looked back. For the better part of his political career, Birla was associated with organisational work in both Rajasthan and at the national level.
First elected as an MLA from Kota in 2003, he won two more terms from the constituency before he was picked up by the state and national leadership to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Kota-Bundi. He was instrumental in leading a movement to set up an Indian Institute of Technology in Kota and ensure the supply of water from the Chambal river to Bundi district.
Om Birla is a name that keeps figuring in BJP circles as someone always there to assist, always eager to take up a challenge and walk the extra mile to deliver the task assigned. His colleagues say he would always propose Kota's name to hold a party convention, so much so that every time he would rise to speak, his colleagues would think that he was going to propose his constituency's name for a cause or event.
Being the NDA nominee, the BJP MP is sure to be elected Speaker of the House, given the ruling coalition's significant majority in the Lok Sabha. He will succeed Sumitra Mahajan. His party colleagues believe he is a cool-headed person with a tenacity to deal with any challenge before him.
Updated Date: Jun 19, 2019 07:51:13 IST