New Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla – cometh the hour cometh the man?
BJP MP from Rajasthan Om Birla has been elected as Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha. In introducing him, PM Narendra Modi credited him with helping transform Kota into the Kashi of education. In the analogy lies the challenge.
Because for sure Kota is the coaching capital of the country now but it is also a byword in student suicides. When a fire gutted a multi-storey hostel there recently it also put the spotlight on the unsafe living conditions of many students in Kota. All of which is to say that it is true that Om Birla now sits on a seat of great power but with it comes great responsibility.
He is now the ultimate arbiter and interpreter of rules for the functioning of the House. He is the collective voice of the House. As such he has to ensure that every voice in the House can be heard. The Speaker certifies a Bill as a Money Bill, the Speaker decides when an MP shall speak and how long an MP shall speak, the Speaker has wide-ranging disciplinary powers to shape how the House shall function, and so on.
The words of Prime Minister Nehru would hold him in good stead: “The Speaker represents the House. He/she represents the dignity of the House, the freedom of the House and because the House represents the nation, in a particular way, the Speaker becomes a symbol of nation’s freedom and liberty. Therefore that should be an honoured position, a free position and should be occupied always by persons of outstanding ability and impartiality.”
So from today onwards it is the job of Om Birla to ensure that both “paksh” and “vipaksh” are accommodated in the 17th Lok Sabha. As he himself said today, “This chair should not only look impartial but be impartial.”
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.