The office of the Speaker occupies a pivotal position in our parliamentary democracy. It has been said of the office of the Speaker that while the members of Parliament represent the individual constituencies, the Speaker represents the full authority of the House itself. He symbolises the dignity and power of the House and protects the rights and privileges not only of the House as a whole but also of every member. Indian Parliament, down its parliamentary history, has witnessed a galaxy of eminent Speakers who have always upheld our great parliamentary traditions and left behind a great legacy for posterity. Shri Manohar Joshi joined this illustrious line of Presiding Officers when he was elected unanimously to the exalted position of Speaker on 10 May, 2002. He remained in office till 4 June, 2004.
Born in Nandvi in the Raigad district of Maharashtra on 2 December 1937, Shri Joshi was educated in Mumbai. He is a Bachelor of Law and holds a Master's degree of Arts and is proficient in Marathi, Hindi, English and Sanskrit. Shri Joshi is married to Smt. Anagha Manohar Joshi. They have one son and two daughters.
Shri Joshi began his career as a teacher and entered the political arena in 1967. His association with the Shiv Sena goes back to four decades. The welfare of the city of Mumbai and its people has always been an abiding concern of Shri Joshi. He was Municipal Councilor in Mumbai during 1968-70 and Chairman, Standing Committee (Municipal Corporation) in 1970. He held the Office of the Mayor of Mumbai during 1976-77. He was also the Chairman of All India Council of Mayors for some time. His close association with the Mumbai city and his grasp of various development issues helped him forcefully champion the cause of Mumbai in the years ahead after he became a member of the State Legislature.
Legislative and Parliamentary Career
Shri Manohar Joshi’s legislative and parliamentary career began in 1972 when he was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Council. After serving three terms in the Legislative Council, Shri Joshi was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1990. He served as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra during 1995-99. His sharp political acumen, leadership qualities and administrative capabilities enabled him to serve the State efficiently. Earlier, he also served as the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly during 1990-91. Shri Joshi is known for his outspoken and forthright views and strongly believes that a structured, responsible and healthy opposition greatly contributes to the strengthening of the democratic polity. He also believes that democracy thrives only where there is a willing cooperation between the opposition and the ruling party. In keeping with this firm conviction, he started a National Association of the Leaders of Opposition in the country.
In the 1999 General Elections, Shri Joshi contested from the Mumbai North - Central Lok Sabha Constituency on a Shiv Sena ticket and was elected to the Thirteenth Lok Sabha. Subsequently, he was inducted into the Union Government and held the important portfolio of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. He brought with him his rich experience in the State of Maharashtra in various capacities to shoulder the onerous responsibility of Union Minister. As Union Minister, he played a vital role in strengthening Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Sector by taking many important policy decisions.
Manohar Joshi, the Speaker
After the tragic death of the then Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri G.M.C Balayogi in a helicopter crash, the post of Speaker remained vacant for some time and Deputy Speaker Shri P.M Sayeed discharged the duties of the Speaker. On 10 May 2002, the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself moved the motion seeking the election of Shri Manohar Joshi as the new Speaker of Lok Sabha; the motion was seconded by the Home Minister, Shri L.K.Advani. When the motion was put before the House for consideration and vote, the House adopted it unanimously and Shri Joshi was elected unanimously as the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Shri Joshi was warmly felicitated on his election to the august office of the Speaker by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Speaker, and the Leaders of various Parties and Groups. Congratulating Shri Joshi on his election to the Office of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, Shri P.M. Sayeed said that although Shri Joshi was new to Parliament, he was not new to parliamentary institutions and parliamentary procedures. His long stint and rich experience in the Maharashtra Legislature holding various positions, would guide him in running the House smoothly.
Felicitating Shri Joshi on having been elected unopposed to the Office of the Speaker, the Prime Minister said that Shri Joshi had come to occupy a seat which had great responsibility and obligations. Commenting on his rich parliamentary and public life, the Prime Minister said that Shri Joshi had started his life as a grass-root worker and held a number of positions before his election to the Lok Sabha. He expressed confidence that Shri Joshi’s experience of the last many years in public life would guide him in conducting the business of the House properly and in a dignified manner, as envisaged in the Constitution.
Extending her felicitations to the newly-elected Speaker, the Leader of Opposition, Smt. Sonia Gandhi said that with his election to the highest office, a great responsibility has devolved upon Shri Joshi for maintaining the time-honoured traditions of our Parliament. She was confident that Shri Joshi’s experience in diverse fields would guide him in conducting the business of the House properly and judiciously like his predecessors.
CPI (M) leader Shri Somnath Chatterjee expressed his happiness over the election of Shri Joshi. He said, “we are very happy and proud that we have an educationist presiding over this House.”
Replying to the felicitations bestowed on him, Shri Joshi said:
I thank everyone of you wholeheartedly for electing me to the high constitutional office of the Speaker. A great responsibility has been entrusted to me and the fact that I am the unanimous choice of the House makes the responsibility indeed onerous. ………I consider it a great personal honour that I am that choice despite being a first time member of the House. I accept this responsibility with humility and I pledge that I shall uphold the trust you have reposed in me by discharging my duties impartially.
Recalling his long association with the Legislative fraternity, Shri Joshi said:
…….I am not new to parliamentary culture.I had a long stint in the Maharashtra Legislature in various capacities, including the Leader of the Opposition. The high traditions maintained by my predecessors from G. V. Mavalanker to G.M.C Balayogi and my long exposure to the Legislature in Maharashtra would guide me in upholding the traditions of this House and the dignity of this office. The Speaker represents the authority of the House while enforcing the procedure and is the first servant of the House while addressing the concerns of the Members. My approach would be friendly and persuasive, rather than rigid and strict. Therefore, I will make myself available to the Members at all times. It will also be my constant endeavour to protect the rights and privileges of the House and of its Hon. Members.
Shri Joshi, with his rich and varied experience of nearly four decades in public life, proved to be a remarkable Presiding Officer who upheld the dignity of the Office and conducted the proceedings of the House in a smooth, orderly and impartial manner. He did his best to carry all sections of the House with him in conducting the proceedings so as to enhance the prestige and dignity of Parliament.
Shri Joshi strived to maintain the discipline and decorum of the House. He held periodic meetings with the Leaders of various Parties and Groups to facilitate consensus in conducting the business of the House in the best possible manner. Apart from the regular meetings held on the eve of every Session, he never missed an opportunity to seek the cooperation of Leaders of all Parties and Groups on specific occasions to address emergent situations which could impact on the proceedings of the House.
Shri Joshi displayed a unique approach to parliamentary reforms. He stated that frequent forced adjournments, besides leading to wastage of the precious time of the House, tend to lower its dignity. He emphasised the need to take up more Starred Questions for oral answers in the House. He also facilitated a more purposeful `Zero Hour’ by allowing members to raise only matters of emergent national and international importance. He emphasised that matters relating to individual constituencies could be raised by members under Rule 377 so that there could be a more positive and meaningful utilization of the `Zero Hour’.
Shri Joshi also paid special attention towards enhancing the effectiveness of the Committee System as a whole. In line with this, he facilitated the organisation of the Conference of Chairmen of the Committees on Petitions of Parliament and State Legislatures and the Conference of the Chairmen of the Committees on Estimates of Parliament and State Legislatures in New Delhi in November and December, 2002, respectively. In addition to these, two Conferences of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India were also held under Shri Joshi’s Chairmanship at Bangalore and Mumbai in June 2002 and February 2003, respectively, where important procedural matters and other related issues were discussed. Another important event held under Shri Joshi’s able guidance was the International Parliamentary Conference to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Parliament of India.
Shri Joshi also emphasised the need to provide enhanced facilities, etc. to members of Parliament so that they can play an effective and meaningful role as people’s representatives. He also laid stress on computerization and modernization of the services of the Secretariat. Members are now being provided with palm-top computers. Live audio of the proceedings of the Lok Sabha have also been made available on the internet in the Parliament Home page.
Manohar Joshi, the Person
Shri Manohar Joshi is a versatile personality who has always had an abiding concern for different aspects of national development and took up various issues relating to labour, agriculture, industrial development, business, trade, housing, environment, employment, education and the promotion of Marathi language, literature and culture. As a successful businessman of long standing, Shri Joshi had been Chairman and Managing Director, Proprietor, Partner of several establishments. He believes in giving equal importance to industrial and agricultural sectors and hence worked hard for the advancement of both. He founded the Jagatik Marathi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. During his Chief Ministership, he organized Advantage Maharashtra Conference to promote industrial investments in the State; arranged a programme known as Agro Advantage Maharashtra for farmers and also organised an exhibition displaying information on advanced technology in the field of agriculture. During his Chief Ministership, he was also instrumental in the construction of a number of fly-overs in Mumbai; he also conceived and started the construction of the Mumbai-Pune Express-way Project, Krishna Valley Irrigation Project and schemes like ‘Tanker-free Maharashtra Scheme’.
As an educationist, Shri Joshi played an important role in promoting education and was the driving force behind the foundation of the Kohinoor Technical Institute, which imparts technical education to youth so as to enable them to become self-employed. He was also a member of the Mumbai University Senate and Executive Council. When he was Chief Minister of Maharashtra, he stressed on the importance of moral education and value-based education. For this laudable endeavour that he is lovingly known as “Sir” among his followers. During his tenure as Chief Minister of Maharashtra he started the Kamadhenu Policy for women, Matoshri Vrudhashram Scheme for the aged and Sainik Schools for the youth.
As a person who had an abiding concern for all good causes, he conceived the idea of Clean Mumbai-Green Mumbai and was actively associated with the Green Movement. He also authored a book Swachh Mumbai; Harit Mumbai in Marathi focusing on the problems relating to environment and Clean Mumbai Movement. As part of an active cultural and literary involvement, he set up a Kala Academy in Mumbai; instituted Maharashtra Bhusan Award and organized a graceful Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan at Shivaji Park, Mumbai during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Shri Joshi’s expertise and political acumen was used many a time in various international fora. A great votary of peace and cooperation, he never missed an opportunity to underscore the importance of promoting inter-parliamentary cooperation. As the Speaker of Lok Sabha, he led Indian Parliamentary Delegations to Geneva to the Special Session of the Inter-Parliamentary Council, Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Dhaka and also to China, Croatia, Iran, Panama, Poland, Russia and Zambia. During this period, Parliamentary Delegations from Mexico, Surinam, Canada, Turkey, Greece, Lao PDR, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Indonesia, etc. visited our Parliament and exchanged views with Speaker Shri Joshi and members of Parliament.
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