Om Birla Re-elected as Lok Sabha Speaker Amidst Rare Electoral Contest

Birla's re-election as Lok Sabha Speaker mirrors historical precedents, joining the ranks of notable multi-term speakers like G.V. Mavalankar and Dr. Balram Jakhar.

0 7,272

In a major political event, Om Birla was re-elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha for a second consecutive term through a voice vote, marking a rare occurrence in India’s parliamentary history. This election underscores not only the procedural aspects of India’s parliamentary democracy but also the political dynamics within the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s Parliament.

Om Birla’s re-election on June 26, 2024, followed the nomination process in which the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) put forward his candidacy. In contrast, the opposition, spearheaded by the INDIA Alliance, nominated Kodikunnil Suresh, a seasoned Congress MP. This nomination from the opposition set the stage for a potential electoral contest. However, the opposition did not press for a division of votes, leading to Birla’s election by acclamation.

This event is noteworthy as it is only the fifth instance where a Speaker of the Lok Sabha has been elected for more than one term. The practice has historical precedents with figures like G.V. Mavalankar and Dr. Balram Jakhar, who have also served multiple terms, highlighting the exceptional trust and respect they commanded across party lines.

The election of a Speaker in the Lok Sabha is governed by Article 93 of the Indian Constitution. It is detailed further in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha. According to these rules, the election is typically set for the third day of the first session of a new Lok Sabha. For the 18th Lok Sabha, this process began on June 24, 2024, with the election following two days later. The process entails nominating candidates by noon the day before the election, which must be seconded by another member. The Speaker Pro-Tem, who oversees the election, then conducts the vote.

This year’s election was marked by its adherence to these established protocols but was unique in requiring an actual vote rather than a mere consensus, which has been more common in past elections. The occurrence of a vote, rather than a unanimous selection, indicates a shift from the traditional non-contentious appointment of the Speaker and reflects deeper partisan divides within the house.

Historically, the Lok Sabha has seen divisions during the election of the Speaker only three times before — in the 1st, 4th, and 5th Lok Sabhas. These instances were during politically turbulent times, suggesting that such divisions often mirror broader political challenges or transitions.

SPEAKERS OF LOK SABHA

Sl. No. Name                              Period
From To
1. Shri G. V. Mavalankar 15.05.1952 27.02.1956
2. Sh. M. A. Ayyangar 08.03.1956 10.05.1957
11.05.1957 16.04.1962
3. Sardar Hukam Singh 17.04.1962 16.03.1967
4. Shri N. Sanjiva Reddy 17.03.1967 19.07.1969
5. Shri G.S. Dhillon 08.08.1969 17.03.1971
22.03.1971 01.12.1975
6. Shri Bali Ram Bhagat 05.01.1976 25.03.1977
7. Shri N. Sanjiva Reddy 26.03.1977 13.07.1977
7. Shri K.S. Hegde 21.07.1977 21.01.1980
8. Shri Bal Ram Jakhar 22.01.1980 15.01.1985
16.01.1985 18.12.1989
9. Shri Rabi Ray 19.12.1989 09.07.1991
10. Shri Shivraj V. Patil 10.07.1991 22.05.1996
11. Shri P.A. Sangma 23.05.1996 23.03.1998
12. Shri G.M.C. Balyogi 24.03.1998 19.10.1999
22.10.1999 03.03.2002
13. Shri Manohar Joshi 10.05.2002 02.06.2004
14. Shri Somnath Chatterjee 04.06.2004 31.05.2009
15. Smt. Meira Kumar 04.06.2009 04.06.2014
16. Smt. Sumitra Mahajan 06.06.2014 17.06.2019
17. Shri Om Birla 19.06.2019 Till Date

Despite the potential for contest, Om Birla’s re-election as Speaker reflects his broad acceptability among most members, underscoring his previous tenure’s effectiveness. His leadership style, parliamentary conduct, and administrative decisions likely played significant roles in securing his re-election without necessitating a divisive vote.

On the other hand, Kodikunnil Suresh, the opposition’s candidate, despite not being elected, remains a significant parliamentary figure as one of the most senior members of the 18th Lok Sabha. His experience and insights continue to be vital for the house’s functioning.

The role of the Speaker is pivotal in the Lok Sabha, responsible not only for maintaining order but also for ensuring that debates and legislative processes are conducted fairly. The Speaker’s impartiality is crucial for the legitimacy of any decisions made within the house. Given the Speaker’s influential role, the election is more than a procedural necessity; it reflects the political will and direction of the ruling government and the opposition.

Om Birla’s re-election as Speaker, while following constitutional and procedural frameworks, also signals a continuity in leadership that may influence the government’s legislative agenda. It also points to a continuity in how parliamentary proceedings are managed, potentially impacting India’s broader legislative and political landscape. As Birla takes on this role again, his actions and decisions will be critical in navigating the complexities of a diverse and often divided house in a pivotal period of India’s democratic journey.