New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Wednesday reached out to small parties after being unanimously elected to the post, saying he would run the House in an impartial manner and safeguard the interests of members, irrespective of their party strength.
The motion to choose Birla as Speaker was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was supported by members of opposition parties, including the Congress, Biju Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
“I will preside over the proceedings in accordance with rules and regulations and safeguard the interests of the members, irrespective of the strength of their parties in the House. I have been a member like you from 2014 to 2019. Here, we should raise the issues which matter to the last person standing in the row," Birla said in his speech.
Modi welcomed Birla to the Lok Sabha after he was elected unopposed, and said public service has been the focal point of Birla’s politics. After the election, Modi escorted Birla to the Speaker’s chair.
“It is a matter of great pride for the House. We all congratulate Om Birla on being unanimously elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Many MPs (members of Parliament) know Birla well. He has served in the state of Rajasthan as well," Modi said addressing the House after Birla was elected to the post.
Modi said Birla has always been willing to serve the society, recalling his visit to help victims of the devastating floods in Uttarakhand and the earthquake in Kutch.
“Personally, I remember working with Om Birla for a long time. He represents Kota, a place that is mini-India, land associated with education and learning. He has been in public life for years. He began as a student leader and has been serving society since then without a break," Modi added.
Birla was elected Speaker a day before President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to both the Houses of Parliament. Birla is a two-time member of the Lok Sabha from Rajasthan and has represented the state legislative assembly for three terms.
Praising the central government and urging members for a smooth functioning of the House, Birla said: “We have a transparent government in the centre. The government should be responsible and answerable to the House. We should raise the questions and issues that come under the ambit of the central government."
He assured the opposition parties that they should remain satisfied that even if their numbers are less, he will make sure that their voices are heard.
“We have come to the House so that it can grow. While respecting the boundaries of the House, we should make sure that just like our democracy is celebrated across the world, our practices in the House are celebrated," Birla said.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal, whose party is in alliance with the BJP, urged the Speaker to give more time to smaller states. He said that there are 10 states and six Union territories with less than five members in the House.
“I would request you that the minorities, regional parties and states with small numbers should be given more time so that they can express their views, because their problems may be bigger than other bigger states. I would request you to consider allocating more time to the smaller states," Badal said.
Opposition parties urged Birla to be impartial and take up issues that are raised by them. They also expressed concern over the number of bills being referred to the standing committee for further scrutiny. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary, extending support to Birla, urged him to be impartial and give enough time to the opposition to raise issues of public interest.
After the election of the Speaker, Modi introduced the cabinet ministers of the National Democratic Alliance to the House.
PTI contributed to this story.