NEW DELHI (TIP): The soft spoken “Tai” (elder sister) Sumitra Mahajan, an eight-time BJP MP, has been elected the 16th Lok Sabha Speaker. She is a battle hardened leader who has risen from the ranks to the top post. Interestingly, the official name of 71-year-old Mahajan, the eldest and senior-most among women Members of Parliament, in the 16th Lok Sabha MPs’ list is also mentioned as “Sumitra Mahajan (Tai)”.
Mahajan will be the second woman after Meira Kumar to be elected to the august office of Lok Sabha Speaker. Starting her political life at the age of 39, Mahajan became the deputy mayor and then an MP from Indore in Madhya Pradesh. She was a Minister of State in the Atal Behari Vajpayee cabinet from 1999 to 2004, holding different portfolios of Human Resources, Communications and IT and Petroleum and Natural Gas.
A lawyer-turned-politician, Mahajan is known for her trademark simplicity, honesty and clean image besides her impeccable winning record at the hustings. An active parliamentarian, she has not only headed important committees, but has also been a keen debater and avid questioner inside the House, often seen putting ministers on the mat with her calm but firm interventions. The mild-mannered Mahajan has over the years emerged as a force to reckon with in Indore where she never lost since she first became an MP in 1989 and a generation of opposition leaders have been waiting to trounce her.
She, however, had lost the Indore Assembly election thrice before becoming an MP. Mahajan won her Lok Sabha seat for the eighth consecutive time in this election by an impressive margin of 4.67 lakh votes. Born on April 12, 1943 in Chiplun of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra, Mahajan became a municipal corporator in 1982. Within the BJP, Mahajan has grown from being President of the BJP Mahila Morcha in Madhya Pradesh in 1990 to being the national general secretary in 1998.