Selection of the Kota-Bundi MP, Om Birla for the post of the Lok Sabha speaker surprised many including MPs from the treasury bench.
But what came as a real shocker is that the Lok Sabha secretariat - which is responsible for the maintenance of the Lok Sabha website - removed paragraphs mentioning Birla’s association with the BJP’s parent organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Ayodhya movement from his profile.
Whereas the previous version of Birla’s profile on the Lok Sabha website, clearly mentioned his association with the RSS, the edited version does not have any mention of it.
Not only this, while Birla’s profile (before editing) claimed that he was imprisoned during the Ram Temple movement, an entire paragraph has been removed from the new version.
“Birla was imprisoned in Uttar Pradesh due to active participation in Ram Mandir construction movement,” read his older profile on the Lok Sabha website.
While, the edited version of the newly appointed Lok Sabha speaker only talks about the good and humanitarian work done by him as an MP.
The whole paragraph about his association with the RSS and the Ram temple movement has been deleted.
It is important to mention here what BJP-RSS refer as Ayodhya or Ram Mandir movement was actually a politically inclined violent mob which was in pursuit of building the Ram temple in Ayodhya leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Riots broke out following the demolition of the Masjid in which thousands were killed by frenzied mobs.
“Birla’s selection as the Lok Sabha speaker is just another step towards making India a Hindu Rashtra through saffronisation of the chair. However, they want to do it with sophistication,” said a Jaipur watcher.
Those who understand the Rajasthan politics and nuances of parliamentary politics, feel Birla’s selection for the post which requires experience as well as craftsmanship of handling parliamentary affairs and a certain degree of above-the-party politics approach, is not surprising at all.
A former BJP leader who joined the Congress in Rajasthan quipped, “What are his achievements as a parliamentarian and a politician except his close association with the RSS and having no stand on the contentious issues.”
He added that Modi selected Birla for obvious reasons. “First and foremost, is his being an RSS activist and second being his pliability. Modi would not like someone who could raise question against his decisions/wishes even in the remotest way,” said the leader.
“They wanted someone who will run the Lok Sabha as per their plan and wish, not as per the rule book.,” said a Delhi based senior journalist.
Observers believe that apart from Birla being an RSS member, his personal rapport with Modi worked in his favour.
“Birla touched the chord with Gujarat BJP including Modi, when he led a team of 100 volunteers, including doctors, following the Gujarat earthquake in 2001,” said an observer.
Maneka Gandhi’s name was also doing the round for the post, but ‘given’ her stature, experience and most importantly due to her surname, she remained out of favour,” said an editor of an English daily.
“After Sumitra Mahajan, Birla’s selection for the post of the Lok Sabha speaker, seems more of RSS’s choice. They are moving towards making India a Hindu Rashtra by all means” noted a Delhi based senior a journalist.
Although this will not be the first time when a relatively new MP will hold the position. In 1996, TDP leader CM Balayogi was also a two-time MP when he was elected as the LS Speaker and after his death in a helicopter crash in 2002, Shiv Sena leaders and the first-time MP Manohar Joshi was appointed to the position.