Meira Kumar completes two years as Lok Sabha speaker

June 2nd, 2011 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Meira Kumar New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) Meira Kumar, the first woman speaker of the Lok Sabha, Thursday completed two years of running India’s highest democratic institution during which the house saw some of the worst scenes of tumult over alleged corruption scams.

The Lok Sabha secretariat organised a colourful function in the Parliament Library Building to honour the speaker for her “successful completion” of two years in office.

Meira Kumar, 66, was elected unopposed as the first woman speaker of the lower house in June 2009 to preside the 15th Lok Sabha.

In the two years, the former diplomat and five-term MP has come to be known as a speaker with an “iron fist with velvet voice”.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh famously praised her once, saying he was pleased that the speaker who is “facing challenges in our parliament is a very distinguished woman who sheaths the proverbial iron fist beneath a velvet voice”.

During her tenure as the speaker, parliament has witnessed some of the worst tumultuous scenes in the history of Indian democracy.

The rift between the government and the opposition over various issues in the past even led to weeks of logjam in parliament. So much so that the last winter session turned out to be the least productive in India’s parliamentary history.

The entire month-long session was washed out with no significant business conducted due to protests leading to daily adjournments of both houses of parliament over the opposition demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum allocation.

This left Meira Kumar miffed as she has always regretted the wastage of parliament’s time meant to pass legislation and overseeing the government’s functioning.

A former cabinet minister, Meira Kumar has had a steady rise in the echelons of power before she occupied the high office of the Lok Sabha, replacing Somnath Chatterjee.

Daughter of late Congress leader Jagjivan Ram, she is said to be the Congress’ Dalit face.

In 1985, she left her diplomatic job and fought the polls and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh defeating Mayawati - another powerful woman who is currently the chief minister of the state.

She became a cabinet minister in the 2004 government of Manmohan Singh and held the social justice and empowerment ministry.

A law graduate and a masters in English, she joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and has served in the embassies in Spain, Britain and Mauritius.

An avid reader, Meira Kumar writes poetry, is a keen sportswoman and has won medals for rifle shooting.

Parliament employees paid gratitude to her for the welfare measures she has undertaken for them. At the function to honour her, speakers heaped praises on her for “not only setting benchmarks in conducting the house” but also attracting international attention for her role as the Lok Sabha speaker.

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