Several senior BJP parliamentarians, including former Union ministers Maneka Gandhi, Radha Mohan Singh and Virender Kumar, are in contention for the post of Lok Sabha speaker as the party top brass deliberates to finalise its choice, sources said. Former Union ministers Jual Oram and S S Ahluwalia are also among the probable candidates, they said.
Eight-term MP Gandhi is the most experienced BJP lawmaker in Lok Sabha and is being seen as a natural choice for the speaker’s post. She is also likely to be appointed as pro-tem speaker, being the senior most parliamentarian in the seventeenth Lok Sabha.
Singh, a six-term MP, has emerged as a strong contender for the job due to his deep roots in the organisation and image of an affable and gentle leader, the sources said.
Also a six-time MP, Kumar’s Dalit identity might work in his favour, they added.
Ahluwalia was a minister of state for parliamentary affairs in the previous government and is known for his knowledge of legislative matters.
A section of BJP leaders is of the view that the leadership may spring a surprise with its choice for the post by appointing someone from southern India.
The sources said that the post of deputy speaker may go to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) this time and Cuttack MP Bhartruhari Mahtab is being considered for the post.
Mahtab was awarded as the best parliamentarian award for 2017.
In the sixteenth Lok Sabha, the post of deputy speaker was held by M Thambi Durai of the AIADMK.
The first session of the new Lok Sabha is scheduled to begin on June 17. Election to the post of speaker will be held on June 19.
The BJP-led NDA nominee is set to be elected for the post as it has nearly two-thirds majority in the 542-member house.