The Congress and other UPA allies have decided to support the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Om Birla for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker, the election for which will be held on June 19 i.e. tomorrow.
The announcement was made by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury – Congress leader in the Lok Sabha. However, he remained silent on the issue of Deputy Speaker.
Chowdhury said the Congress has already moved a motion supporting the ruling party candidate for the post of Speaker of Lok Sabha. The decision was taken a meeting of the UPA allies in Parliament this evening, where the leaders also discussed the opposition strategy during the Parliament session.
The Congress and other opposition parties, have however, not decided on the strategy for the post of deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha and are adopting a "wait and watch" policy.
Leaders of Congress and other UPA allies said they would await the government's next move on the appointment of the deputy speaker, a post that traditionally goes to the opposition.
So far, the government has not given any indication on the post and the opposition is waiting its move on the issue.
Birla, a BJP MP from Kota-Bundi seat in Rajasthan, is all set to be elected unopposed on Wednesday when the motion seeking his election is moved in Lok Sabha.
A surprise pick, Birla's name, sources said, was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself for the post. The Rajasthan leader is considered to be close to both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
Starting his political journey as a student leader, the 57 year old leader has also been elected to Rajasthan assembly for three consecutive terms in 2003, 2008 and 2013.
Birla, who won his first Lok Sabha election in 2014 and was again elected this year from Rajasthan's Kota-Bundi seat. He defeated Congress's Ramnarayan Meena with a margin of over 2.5 lakh votes in the Kota-Bundi Lok Sabha seat in the recently concluded general elections.
A conscientious parliamentarian, Birla has registered a 86 per cent average attendance in the House, has asked 671 questions, participated in 163 debates and introduced six private member's bills during the 16th Lok Sabha.
For 12 years since 1991, Birla was a key leader in Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha as president at state level first and then the vice-president at the national level.
He is a member of the Standing Committee on Energy in Parliament, member of Committee on Petitions and Consultative Committee for Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Birla will succeed eight-term MP Sumitra Mahajan as the Speaker, a post traditionally held by senior MPs.
However, this will not be for the first time a relative newcomer will hold the position. In 1996, TDP leader G M C Balayogi was also a two-time MP when he was elected as the LS Speaker and after his death in a helicopter crash in 2002, Shiv Sena leaders and the first-time MP Manohar Joshi was appointed to the position.