NEW DELHI: Om Birla, a two-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament (MP) from Rajasthan, is set to be unanimously elected as the Lok Sabha Speaker on Wednesday, with the opposition Congress coming out in support of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s candidate.

On Tuesday, the NDA announced Birla’s candidature for the Speaker’s post. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), too, backed him for the post.

The BJP also reached out to the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seeking their support for Birla.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Rajnath Singh, home minister Amit Shah and minister for transport and highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari proposed Birla’s name for the Speaker’s post.

“The BJD, Shiv Sena, National People’s Party, Mizo National Front, Akali Dal, Lok Janshakti Party, YSRCP, Janata Dal (United), AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and Apna Dal have signed the proposal," parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi told the media.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Congress, has also decided to support Birla’s candidature, senior Congress leader from West Bengal Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, according to the Press Trust of India. Chowdhury, who was named the party’s leader in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, however, remained silent on the Congress’s plans for the deputy Speaker’s post.

Birla will take over the mantle from Sumitra Mahajan, who opted out of the Lok Sabha elections this time. He was elected to the 17th Lok Sabha from the Kota-Bundi parliamentary constituency.

Even without the support of the opposition, Birla would have won the elections for the Speaker’s post comfortably, considering that the ruling alliance has 353 MPs in the 542-member Lower House. Besides, he also had the backing of YSRCP’s 22 MPs and BJD’s 12 MPs. The NDA is also hoping to get the support of four independents.

Earlier in the day, Birla met the BJP’s newly appointed working president J.P. Nadda at his residence. While he refused to comment on what transpired during the meeting, his wife Amita Birla was more forthcoming and expressed happiness on the development. “It is a very proud and a happy moment for us. We are very thankful to the cabinet for choosing him."

Birla became a first-time MP in 2014, when the NDA returned to power after 10 years under Modi. An agriculturist and social worker, Birla, 57, had been a three-time member of the legislative assembly (MLA) in Rajasthan. He entered public life at 17, when he became the president of the Students Association in Kota. He was also the national vice-president of the All India Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP.

Birla is also 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. He has an 86% average attendance in the House.

Press Trust of India contributed to this story

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