Lok Sabha to see second woman Speaker in BJP's Sumitra Mahajan

As a fresh session of parliament with a new government gets under way, it was widely reported today that veteran parliamentarian Sumitra Mahajan of the Bharatiya Janata Party will be the ruling combine's candidate for the 16th Lok Sabha.

woman Speaker in BJP's Sumitra MahajanAn eight-time member of the House, Mahajan has been in the reckoning for the Speaker's position since the election results were out.

The 71-year-old Mahajan will be the second woman to preside over the lower house; outgoing Speaker Meira Kumar was the first.

This will be the first time that the BJP will have one of its party members as Speaker. In the BJP's earlier stints in government as the leading party in the National Democratic Alliance, the post of Speaker was granted to key allies - first to G M C Balayogi of the Telugu Desam Party and then to the Shiv Sena's Manohar Joshi.

Mahajan is among the longest-serving women members of Parliament. Having represented the Indore constituency of Madhya Pradesh since 1989, she is a party veteran. Commentators say she is efficient, non-controversial and fair.

A lawyer by training, she was a minister of state in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government; moving from human resource development to communication & information technology, and subsequently petroleum and natural gas.

The speaker's election is scheduled for Friday and Mahajan is expected to be elected unopposed.

Yesterday's opening session was given over to mourning for Gopinath Munde, the BJP leader who was killed in a car crash barely a week after being appointed the cabinet minister for rural development. It was temporarily presided over by the most senior member of the House, Kamal Nath of the Congress, who was sworn-in pro-tem Speaker by President Pranab Mukherjee in the morning.