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    » 06/04/2009, 00.00

    INDIA

    For the first time a Dalit woman as speaker of the Parliament

    CT Nilesh

    The congress elected Meira Kumar as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. She hails froma a family of politicians that has always been close to the Congress. Her nomination reopens the issue of women in the parliament and hopes that the new government increases its effort in the social field.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Meira Kumar is the new Speaker  of the 15th Lok Sabha, the Indian lower house of parliament. It is the first time a Dalit lady occupies an important role as that of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha . When her name was mentioned by Sonia Gandhi, Meira gladly resigned as Water Resources Minister, taken up the week before. Most probably this decision will facilitate the difficult task of introducing the women’s quota in the legislature and make a statement on the party’s social commitment. In the past it has always been  the Congress that chose  the first female PM. Indira Gandhi, and the first female President, Pratibha Patel.

    64 years old Kumar, hails from a family that had always been supporting the Congress Party. Her father Jagjivan Ram, had been deputy Prime Minister. She has successfully contested election from  three different places: Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh, Karol Bagh in Delhi and Sasaram in Bihar.

    The new Speaker of the Lok Sabha was part of P V Narasimha Rao’s  government ,as the deputy minister and was made a minister of Cabinet rank when the UPA took over in 2004. Meira Kumar also had various responsibilities  in the hierarchy of the  Congress Party as General Secretary.

    Choosing her may also be a Congress masterstroke in view of the move being made by the BJP to project another woman, Sushma Swaraj, as the possible deputy leader in the Lok Sabha and the emergence of Mayawati, leader of Baujan Sajawadi Party, as a Dalit icon.

    Kumar graduated  in 1973 as Indian Foreign Service officer and for 12 years she served in Indian embassies in Madrid, London and also in the ministry of external affairs in Delhi. She quit her job to be elected to the Parliament from Bijnor in 1985.

    The BJP also wanted to score a first proposing as Deputy Speaker a tribal, Karia Munda.

     

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    See also

    04/11/2005 INDIA
    Some 200 episodes of anti-Christian violence in 2005 in India
    All India Catholic Union deplores the situation, especially bad in states ruled by the fundamentalist BJP. Union government is urged to ensure young Christians education and work

    26/05/2008 INDIA
    Hindu nationalists in decisive victory in Karnataka
    The Bharatiya Janata Party takes 110 out of 224 seats and increases its series of recent election wins. Now BJP is turning its attention to next year’s Union elections. A Karnataka bishops talks about it.

    11/04/2007 INDIA
    Uttar Pradesh vote to decide India’s future
    Over the next month or so Uttar Pradeshis will vote in state elections. With one seventh of all the seats in the lower house of parliament, their state is crucial for the balance of power in Delhi. The ballot is taking place at a time of economic and social crisis. Experts expect the election to be decided by a few votes.

    12/05/2009 INDIA
    Uncertainty over the out come of Indian elections
    Tomorrow sees the last of the five rounds of voting. The results are due out on May 16th. Some predict gains for the the HinduBharatya Janata Party and losses for Congress, of outgoing premier Menmohan Singh. Alliances will be decisive in forming the next government.

    23/05/2008 INDIA
    Delhi to pay compensation for thousands of Muslim killed or wounded
    In 2002 Hindus went on a rampage in Gujarat, killing and wounding thousands of Muslims under the indifferent eyes of the nationalist-led state government. New Delhi announces a US$ 80 million compensation deal. For experts it is an attempt to secure votes ahead of the 2009 elections whose outcome remains uncertain.



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