All set as first woman Speaker

NEW DELHI, 3 JUNE: The Congress party’s Dalit leader from Bihar, Mrs Meira Kumar is all set to get unanimously elected as the Speaker of the newly-constituted 15th Lok Sabha tomorrow, even as the BJP’s veteran tribal leader from Jharkhand, Mr Karia Munda, also emerged as a consensus candidate to become the Deputy Speaker a few days later.
Nomination papers in favour of Mrs Kumar in the form of motions were filed today by parties across the political spectrum, including the principal Opposition BJP, making her the only candidate in the fray.
With tomorrow’s election being now only a formality, expected to be carried out unanimously through voice vote, the 64-year-old five-time MP, Mrs Kumar, an ex-IFS officer, will secure the distinction of becoming the first woman Speaker and second Dalit Speaker of India.
“It is a historic moment. It is a very overwhelming moment for me,” Mrs Kumar said adding that leaders of all political parties had proposed her name for the high constitutional office. “It is a historic moment as a woman has been considered for this important and august post,” she added.
Before the deadline expired at noon, a Congress-led UPA delegation led by the Leader of the House Mr Pranab Mukherjee submitted 13 sets of nomination papers proposing the name of Mrs Kumar, daughter of the late Babu Jagjivan Ram, to the Lok Sabha Secretary General, Mr P D T Achary.
“We have filed 13 sets of nomination papers. The first set was signed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and I have seconded it,” Mr Mukherjee said.
Among leaders of various political parties who signed other sets of nomination papers in favour of Mrs Kumar as proposers and seconders are the Opposition leader Mr L K Advani and Mrs Sushma Swaraj of the BJP, Mr Sharad Pawar and Mr Praful Patel of the NCP, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mr Shailendra Kumar of the SP, Miss Mamata Banerjee and Mrs Ratna De of the Trinamul, Mr Sharad Yadav and Mr Rajeev Ranjan Singh of the JD-U, Mr Lalu Prasad and Mr Jagada Nand Singh of the RJD, Mr T R Baalu and Mr A K S Vijayan of the DMK, Mr Arjun Charan Sethi and Bhratruhari Mahtab of the BJD, Dr Farooq Abdullah and Mr E Ahmed.
Mr Karia Munda is set to team up with Mrs Kumar as her deputy, which will thus ensure that the two top presiding officers’ posts of the Lok Sabha will be occupied by a Dalit-tribal duo.
The BJP today named the 72-year-old six-time MP, Mr Munda as its candidate for the post of Deputy Speaker.
“The BJP’s Central Parliamentary Board held a meeting today after the government’s proposal that as per convention the Deputy Speaker’s post be given to the main Opposition party. The board decided to name Mr Munda as the candidate for the post,” the BJP general secretary, Mr Arun Jaitley, said.
With the Congress-led UPA set to back Mr Munda after having offered the post of the Deputy Speaker to the BJP in accordance with convention, Mr Munda also seems to enjoy a consensus candidate status. The date for his election is to be decided by the new Speaker, but it is likely to be wrapped up by 9 June when this inaugural session is scheduled to end.
Mr Munda, who won his Lok Sabha election for the sixth time from Jharkhand’s Khunti constituency, said his nomination would send a “good message” among the tribals, but denied that his party has thus sought to play a tribal card.