Sumitra Mahajan, an eight-time MP from Indore, was on Friday unanimously elected Speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha. Mahajan, 71, a veteran BJP leader, is the second woman to occupy the high seat after her predecessor Meira Kumar of the Congress.
As the House assembled on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved a motion proposing Mahajan’s name, which was seconded by veteran BJP leader LK Advani.
Later, after announcing 13 similar motions moved by several parties, the House approved her candidature.
After Mahajan's election, leaders cutting across party lines congratulated her as she was being led to the Speaker's chair by the Prime Minister, among others.
In her acceptance speech, Mahajan thanked all the parties for their support, adding that healthy debate should be the foundation of the great democracy that India was. She said she would try not to disappoint all the parties, big and small, and sought their cooperation for smooth functioning of the House so that voters’ hopes and aspirations can be fulfilled.
Modi, while congratulating Mahajan, thanked all the parties for unanimously electing her and keeping up the great tradition of electing the presiding officer without a contest.
Valuable experience He said Mahajan had risen from being a corporator to the high seat of Lok Sabha Speaker and her experience would be valuable.
“Your name ‘Sumitra’ itself gives a feeling of friendliness,” he said, terming her election as a “proud moment for our democracy.”
Drawing parallels, Modi said the 16th Lok Sabha is similar to that of the country’s first Lok Sabha, as the present House has around 315 first-time members.
With new blood and aspirations, coupled with great traditions of the past, the House could become a temple of energy to help address the hopes of the people, he added.
Leader of Congress in the House, Malllikarjun Kharge, complimented Mahajan for her pleasant demeanour and urged her to carry along everyone, irrespective of party affiliation and strength, in the House.
Breaking into poetry, he said: “ Hayat le ke chalo, Kainaat le ke chalo, Chalo to saare zamaane ko saath le ke chalo .” (Carry life along, carry the universe along, as you walk, carry the entire world along with you)
“I know that you cannot please all, but you should protect all parties — big or small,” he added.
AIADMK leader Thambidurai, Trinamool Congress’ Sudip Bandopadhyay, BJD’s B Mahtab, TDP’s Ashok Gajapati Raju, SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and other party leaders also assured their support for smooth functioning of the House.
Minority voices Most party leaders said the ruling alliance may have won a clear majority, but for a democracy to remain vibrant, even minority voices needed to be protected and heard out.
Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda said he did not want to see a repeat of the 15th Lok Sabha, which had seen record disruptions.
Earlier in the day, protem Speaker Kamal Nath presided over the oath-taking of members who were absent on Thursday, such as Murli Manohar Joshi, Jagdambika Pal and Ram Kripal Yadav. Two Trinamool MPs — Dinesh Trivedi and actor Dev — whose names were called out, were not present in the House on Friday either.