Om Birla elected as Speaker for the 18th Lok Sabha, 10 Shocking Controversies from His Last Tenure

Om Birla's re-election as Lok Sabha Speaker without opposition support raises concerns about impartiality and democratic processes, given controversies from his previous tenure.

Must Read

Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Om Birla has been chosen as the Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha without the Opposition’s endorsement. This has significant consequences.

Bhartruhari Mahtab, the pro-tem Speaker, announced the election results after the Opposition, which had proposed Congress MP K Suresh as its candidate, refrained from requesting a vote on the motion.

The Opposition interprets this as demonstrating the governing party’s reluctance to establish a consensus on critical parliamentary positions. The Opposition is concerned that the Speaker may fail to uphold precise impartiality in the conduct of House proceedings in the absence of their input or support.

Om Birla’s Past Tenure as the Speaker

In 2019, he was unanimously elected with the backing of both the governing coalition and the opposition parties. Significant controversies occurred regarding Om Birla’s impartiality during their tenure as Speaker in 2019.

For instance, in numerous reported instances, opposition members claimed that their microphones were muted or cameras were turned away while they were speaking, particularly during contentious debates. Opposition parties criticized these actions as attempts to suppress dissent and restrict their capacity to address issues in Parliament.

Let us look at the other controversies of his previous tenure.

Debate-free passage of bills: The Opposition criticized the passage of significant bills with minimal or no debate, arguing that it undermined parliamentary democracy.

MP suspensions: A substantial number of opposition MPs were suspended for “unruly behavior” during various sessions, which some perceived as an excessive exercise of the Speaker’s disciplinary powers.

Question hour cancellation: The suspension of Question hour during the 2020 Monsoon Session as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was a contentious decision, as it was a critical period for holding the government more accountable.

Limited discussion time: Opposition parties frequently expressed their dissatisfaction with the insufficient time allotted to address significant issues or legislation.

Limitations on the discussion of specific topics: There were allegations that the Speaker prohibited discussions on certain sensitive subjects, including the tensions between India and China on the border.

Fast-tracking of bills: The rapid passage of certain legislation, sometimes without consulting parliamentary committees, was subject to criticism.

Adjournments: According to allegations, the House was adjourned at times when the Opposition sought to address critical issues.

Unparliamentary words controversy: The House was embroiled in a debate regarding freedom of expression after a list of words designated “unparliamentary” was released.

Farm laws debate: The passage of the farm laws in 2020, accompanied by opposition protests, was highly contentious.

Pegasus spyware issue: The Opposition criticized the Speaker for not permitting a comprehensive debate on the allegations of Pegasus spyware.

Om Birla was frequently accused of prejudice by a number of opposition leaders, particularly during contentious debates or when their requests for discussions on specific topics were denied. The Speaker’s conduct was a subject of concern for leaders of various parties, including Congress, TMC, and DMK, on numerous occasions. Opposition parties conducted numerous demonstrations or walkouts in the House, alleging that Om Birla was treating them unjustly. The Speaker’s decisions were frequently criticized by opposition leaders, who accused him of favoring the government’s agenda in public statements. Several opposition members compared the behavior of Lok Sabha members to that of Rajya Sabha members, asserting that the latter exhibited a greater degree of impartiality. Opposition leaders used press conferences and media interactions to express their apprehensions regarding Om Birla’s perceived bias. Parliamentary proceedings frequently document objections to the Speaker’s decisions and conduct. The Opposition repeatedly urged OM Birla to preserve neutrality and facilitate a fair debate.

Members of the Opposition are concerned that this sets a precedent for future appointments without pursuing a broader consensus. There are concerns that the absence of sufficient consultation in appointing significant constitutional positions may jeopardize the system of checks and balances.

This is also perceived as an attempt by the governing party to strengthen its control and authority over parliamentary proceedings. The Opposition is concerned that their voice and influence in parliamentary affairs are being reduced.

This situation could be perceived as a clear symptom of the country’s alarming rise in political polarization, which requires immediate attention. The absence of opposition support may increase the frequency of protests or disruptions during parliamentary sessions.

Does this reduce the respect for the Speaker’s Chair?

It does diminish respect for the Speaker’s chair, as the position has historically been characterized by broad-based support and consensus. A Speaker elected without opposition support may be perceived as less impartial, which could undermine the chair’s authority.

Ultimately, the respect for the Speaker’s chair may be contingent upon how the elected individual fulfills their responsibilities rather than how they were elected.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


More Articles Like This