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Lok Sabha speakers and the 20-year jinx that continues

Sumitra Mahajan is the fifth Lok Sabha Speaker in a row to not return to Parliament as an elected member of the Lower House

Statesman News Service | Bhopal |

Notwithstanding the Lok Sabha election results on 23 May, a continuous 20-year-old jinx related to Lok Sabha speakers in India’s parliamentary history will extend further. The Speaker of 16th Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan, will cease to be a member of the new House, as had happened with a few of her predecessors.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from Indore who has been an MP for 30 consecutive years, Sumitra Mahajan was denied a ticket for the 2019 parliamentary polls. Consequently, she will not be a member of the 17th Lok Sabha.

Sumitra Mahajan will thus become the fifth Lok Sabha Speaker in a row to not return to Parliament after a stint on the supposedly neutral post.

The trend began in 1999 with the 13th Lok Sabha when Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader GMC Balayogi became the Speaker on 22 October 1999. Balayogi passed away midterm, on 3 March 2002, and Manohar Joshi of the Shiv Sena became the next speaker of the 13th Lok Sabha on 10 May 2002. He remained speaker till 2 June 2004. He, however, lost in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and was not able to become a member of the 14th Lok Sabha.

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Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Somnath Chatterjee became the speaker of the 14th Lok Sabha on 4 June 2004, when the Congress-led UPA formed the Union government. Chatterjee was sacked from the CPI (M) after he supported the UPA government when all of the Left parties withdrew their support. Consequently, he retired from politics and did not contest the next general elections in 2009. He was, thus, not able to become a member in the 15th Lok Sabha.

Congress leader Meira Kumar was appointed the speaker of the 15th Lok Sabha on 4 June 2009 after the UPA government regained power. Meira Kumar contested the 2014 general elections but lost it in the Modi wave and was not able to become a member of the 16th Lok Sabha, which saw the BJP come to power with a thumping majority.

Veteran BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan was appointed the speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha on 5 June 2014. She will also not be able to become a member of the next Lok Sabha, as she did not contest the election. Mahajan has been a Lok Sabha MP for the BJP consecutively for 30 years, from 1999 to 2019, from Indore. Her name has been included in the LIMCA book of records for being the first Indian woman politician to represent the same Lok Sabha constituency on the same party ticket eight times in a row, from the 9th Lok Sabha to the 16th Lok Sabha. However, this was her first time as the speaker of the Lok Sabha and she has also become victim of the 20-year-old jinx attached to Lok Sabha speakers.