BJP leader Om Birla was on Wednesday elected as the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha, with the Opposition supporting his candidature and ensuring a unanimous decision, which was hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "matter of great pride".The election by voice vote took place after the Prime Minister proposed the name of the 56-year-old two-term member from Kota in Rajasthan in the Lok Sabha. The proposal was seconded by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.A total of 13 motions were moved in support of Birla as the Opposition Congress and the Trinamool Congress joined the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in ensuring his election.Birla, who was a three-time MLA from Kota before becoming the MP, was escorted to the Speaker's chair by the Prime Minister, Leader of the Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay and leaders of other parties which supported his candidature.The Prime Minister hailed Birla's "unanimous" election as a "matter of great pride".Modi said he has worked with Birla for a long time and that the focal point of his politics has been "public service".The new Speaker is a "compassionate" person who will "discipline and inspire us", the Prime Minister said, expressing confidence that Birla would act as a "catalytic agent" in setting higher standards of the Lower House of Parliament.Describing Birla as a soft-spoken person, Modi quipped that he "fears sometimes" that somebody may take disadvantage of the humble nature of the Speaker.
While showering praise on Birla, Modi said he represents Kota, which is "like mini India" and associated with education and career-building.He said Birla had significant contribution in the "transformation" of Kota and it happened under his leadership."He (Birla) has been in public life for many years. He began as a student leader and has been serving the society since then without a break," the Prime Minister said.Chowdhury, while assuring his party's support to Birla, urged the new Speaker that the House should abide by democratic practices."I want to assure the Prime Minister that we believe in discussion, dissent and decision. And we expect our right to be respected. In parliamentary discussions, we must avoid the ordinance route because it is against democratic norms," the Congress leader said.Birla thanked the political parties for unanimously electing him as the Speaker and pledged to discharge his duties without any bias."This Chair is impartial and it is meant to be impartial," Birla said in a brief speech after assuming the Chair.He said his duty was to run the House impartially and in accordance with rules and regulations irrespective of which party various members were aligned with."We have several challenges ahead of us and also expectations of the people and we have to live up to their expectations," he said.Birla said that since the government had got a mandate from the people, it should live up to their expectations and faith.The Speaker urged the members to raise issues related to the people and said he expected the government to give satisfactory answers.Birla thanked pro tem Speaker Virendra Kumar for conducting the House smoothly for two days.Birla succeeds Sumitra Mahajan, a veteran BJP leader, who did not contest the Lok Sabha polls this time.