Now, Madam Speaker for LS

Meira Kumar front-runner for the post; Deputy Speaker too may be a woman

Now, Madam Speaker for LS

A high-level meeting of the Congress is said to have shortlisted the names of Union Water Resources Minister Meira Kumar and MP from Rajasthan Girija Vyas for the post of the speaker. Meira Kumar, a Dalit leader, is the front-runner for the post.

The Congress core committee, which met here on Saturday night, is understood to have taken the decision to nominate a woman as the ruling United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) candidate for the post, the election for which is scheduled for June 3. This was mainly because MP from Andhra Pradesh, Kishore Chandra Deo, who was the leading candidate for the post, had been embroiled in a court case over his Scheduled Tribe status.

The Aruku MP may be inducted into the Cabinet. According to informed Congress sources, party supremo Sonia Gandhi had already called up Kishore, who was at Dehra Dun, to convey the core committee’s decision to him. She also asked him to be prepared to take up a ministerial responsibility in the near future.

The core committee, which met at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is also said to have decided to honour the convention of offering the post of the deputy speaker to the Opposition.

After the decision was reached, the prime minister called up BJP leader L K Advani and informed him of the discussion on the post of the deputy speaker.

Sumitra Dy Speaker?

Even the deputy speaker’s job could go to a woman as the BJP is said to be inclined to nominate its MP from Indore, Sumitra Mahajan, for the post.

Besides the Congress chief and the prime minister, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony attended the core committee meeting.

Meira, 63, took oath as minister on May 22. A former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, Meira is the daughter of late Babu Jagjivan Ram. Meira, a law graduate with a Master’s degree in English literature, joined the IFS in 1973.

Having entered electoral politics in 1985, she has the distinction of winning from different states. In 1985, she was elected from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh.

Meira Kumar became a member of parliament in the 11th and 12th Lok Sabha by contesting from Delhi’s Karol Bagh constituency. In 1999, she lost her seat but was re-elected with a record margin from her father’s Sasaram constituency in Bihar.

In 2004, Meira Kumar was inducted into the first UPA government as minister of social justice and empowerment. She was re-elected from Sasaram in 2009.

Indian woman politicos ahead

It took 218 years for the world’s “greatest democracy” to elect its first Madam Speaker of the US House of Representatives! Nancy Pelosi, the incumbent and the first Madam Speaker, was elected to the post on January 4, 2007, in the 110th Congress. Next Wednesday, the 15th Lok Sabha, constituted just 10 days ago with a record number of women MPs, could elect the first Madam Speaker.

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