Delhi: After wreaking surprise two years back by fielding
Pratibhatai Patil as Congress nominee for the Presidential election
who finally went on to become First Woman President of India,
Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi has come once again with a stunner. This
time she has come with an idea of nominating Meira Kumar as the
unanimous UPA candidate for the post of Lok Sabha (LS) Speaker.
Highly-placed sources said that the
name of Meira Kumar has been finalised in the meeting of the
Congress core committee held on Saturday morning. Amid speculation
that she is emerging as a unanimous candidate to head the 15th Lok
Sabha (LS), Meira Kumar met Sonia Gandhi on Sunday and reportedly expressed
her readiness for the post. The meeting included Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh also.
Meira Kumar is the daughter of veteran
Dalit leader and former prime minister Babu Jagjivan
Ram. She had taken the oath as a cabinet minister in the first round
of swearing in when the UPA formed the government after the
spectacular win in the general elections. Two days prior to the
historic decision of bringing her in as the LS Speaker, she was
named Minister for Water Resources.
The election for the LS speaker is
scheduled on June 3 and if she wins the election, very
certain owing to the clear majority the alliance has in the Lok
Sabha, Meira Kumar will become the first woman to hold the post of
"The Congress will be creating a
historical milestone by opting for the first woman Speaker", AICC
spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said recalling how Congress took the lead
by choosing the first woman PM, the youngest PM and the first woman
President in the past.
Besides being the minister in the
previous government, Meira Kumar has been MP since last five
consecutive elections. She has a distinction of winning the
elections from three states that include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and
Delhi. In 1985, she won the Bejnaur parliamentary constituency in
Uttar Pradesh defeating Ramvilas Paswan and Mayawati, both champions
of the Dalit cause.
The decision has come as a surprise
choice as the name of veteran Congressman from Andhra Pradesh
Kishore Chandra Deo was doing the rounds in the media for the last
fortnight as the party's choice for the Speaker's post.
At the meeting on Saturday, the race
appeared to have narrowed down to Kumar and former Union Minister
Girija Vyas, sources said.
The post of Deputy Leader has been
offered to BJP with the Prime Minister himself calling up senior BJP
leader L K Advani to make the proposal, a convention that has been
followed for a couple of decades.
In yet another development, the
decision to move Meira Kumar, the only Minister representing Bihar,
to the Speaker's choice had revived the hope of former Railway
Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to be inducted in the cabinet.
the race for the ministerial berth from Bihar is the Congress MP
from Kishan Ganj Maulana Israrul Haque Qasmi. The Muslim groups are
expressing their unhappiness over the disproportionate
representation in the Union Cabinet.