The Lok Sabha has elected its first ever woman Speaker in its post-Independence history of more than sixty years with Congress Party’s Meira Kumar now occupying the august rank. With her election, the country’s constitutional and political scene now mirrors beginning of women empowerment.
Kumar, 64, who was elected unanimously by a voice vote in parliament, belongs to the low-caste Dalit – formerly untouchable – community. Thus, her election can be seen as empowerment of both women and Dalits.
Kumar, who had been sworn in as a cabinet minister, resigned on Sunday after Congress offered her the Speaker’s job.
Congress party president Sonia Gandhi proposed Kumar as the Speaker of the new house as soon as Lok Sabha met on Wednesday. Subsequently, leader of opposition LK Advani and other political leaders seconded her name.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and LK Advani then accompanied her to the Speaker’s chair to complete the formality.
The new Speaker, who is the daughter of the late Babu Jagjivan Ram, a prominent Dalit leader and former deputy prime minister of India, described her nomination as “a rare historic opportunity”.
“Historic because a woman has been considered for this very important and august position,” she told reporters.
With election of Kumar to LS Speaker’s position, it can be said that woman power is in full display in the country at the moment for three top ranks are held by them in constitutional and political arena.
Pratibha Patil has been the President of the country for two years while Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Congress Party and chairperson of the ruling UPA.
Also, the current Lok Sabha has the highest number of women MPs thus far, 59, and the youngest minister of the country, Agatha Sangama, is a woman, too.