Millennium Post

Om Birla to be Speaker; Adhir to lead Congress in Lok Sabha

NEW DELHI: BJP leader Om Birla is set to be the next Speaker in the Lok Sabha and the opposition has accepted his candidature, sources said. The two-time MP from Rajasthan's Kota is considered close to party chief and home minister Amit Shah.

"The BJD, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, National Peoples' Party, Mizo National Front, Lok Janshakti Party, YSRCP, JDU, AIADMK and Apna Dal have given the notice to support Birla's candidature for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told reporters. "I have spoken to Congress leaders K Suresh and Gulab Nabi Azad. They have not signed till now but I think they would not oppose," he added.

The 56-year-old leader has been associated with the BJP youth wing and has also been in charge of the organisational revamp in Rajasthan in 2018.

The appointment of the NDA candidate is certain in view of the comfortable numbers of the alliance in the Lok Sabha. The BJP alone has 303 members in the 542-seat house. The NDA strength has crossed 350.

Sumitra Mahajan, 76, who was the Speaker in the last Lok Sabha, came up against the BJP's age bar this time and did not contest the election.

On Monday, BJP MP Virendra Kumar was named the pro tem Speaker. After being sworn-in by President Ram Nath Kovind, he administered the oath to the new members.

Meanwhile, the Congress Tuesday named five-time MP, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury its leader in Lok Sabha, after failing to convince Rahul Gandhi to take up the post. At the long pending strategy session Tuesday morning, where Rahul Gandhi and his mother UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were present, the matter was discussed. A letter has been written to Lok Sabha, stating Chowdhury would be the leader of the single largest party and represent it at all important selection committees.

The question of a Lok Sabha leader opened up after the party's veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge lost the election. But the Congress was dilly-dallying on the issue as it wanted Rahul Gandhi for the position.

But Gandhi, since the party's drubbing in the national election, has been steadfast on giving up the party chief's post. The party has refused to accept it and there has been an impasse for weeks.

According to Congress sources, along with Adhir Chowdhury, Kerala leader K Suresh, party spokesperson Manish Tewari and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor were also in the reckoning for the post. But Chowdhury's long experience in the parliament and the party tilted the scales in his favour.

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