With humour and repartee, Om Birla hits the bullseye

Speaker Om Birla conducts the proceedings in the Lok Sabha (PTI Photo)

With a dash of humour and quick repartee, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has ensured smooth functioning of the first session of the newly elected Lower House, which is set to smash records when it comes to transacting legislative business.

On Thursday, Opposition members in the Lok Sabha were an angry lot when the government brought the Dam Safety Bill for consideration and passing. A constant refrain of the Opposition was that they were not given enough time to study the bill.

The Speaker tried to smoothen ruffled feathers by assuring the members that he would ensure that they would get at least a day’s notice about the bills that will be taken up in the House, which would give them adequate time to study the issue.

The issue over the Dam Safety Bill was yet to be decided and members were still unsure about the fate of the Bill, more so after senior members such as Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Shashi Tharoor, Kanimozhi, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Saugata Roy made impassioned pleas for delaying the Bill. “Sir, but what about today,” asked Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool as members eagerly awaited a decision. “Today’s business will be as the Speaker desires,” said Birla, a second-term Lok Sabha member, going ahead with the business of the day.

He took the Zero Hour first, thus enabling members cutting across party lines to raise issues of national importance before moving on to legislative business.

The Speaker has also not hesitated in calling out Union ministers and BJP members for not following the rules of procedure in the House. When Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad started quoting media reports to make a point while moving the Triple Talaq Bill for consideration, the Speaker pointed out to the minister that he cannot quote media reports. The Speaker has on several occasions admonished the ruling BJP members for unruly behaviour in the House.

“Honourable members, it is my duty to run the House, not yours,” Birla has said with a smile taking the sting out of many tense situations. “Fight there, not here,” he said as DMK members from Tamil Nadu and BJP members from Karnataka engaged in a verbal duel over the Cauvery issue.

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