Bishwa Nath Singh:
If anyone raises a question as whose Speakership made its greatest impact on our parliamentary institutions in our country India .unhesitatingly the answer would be, Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, fondly remembered as Dadasaheb Mavalankar on whom the title 'Father of the Lok Sabha' was conferred by none other than Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. As Speaker of the First Lok Sabha of a newly born nation, Mavalankar's role was not merely that of a moderator and facilitator of its proceedings but of a Statesman and a founding father invested with the responsibility to establish rules, procedures, conventions and customs that best suited the requirement of our motherland.
(Photo of G.V.Malvalankar)
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Bishwa Nath Singh:}
Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar was born on November 27,1888 at Baroda, presently part of the State of Gujarat. His family originally belonged to a place called Mavalange in the Ratnagiri District of the then State of Bombay. After his early ed...ucation in different places in the erstwhile Bombay State, Mavalankar moved to Ahmedabad in 1902 for higher studies. He obtained his Bachelor Degree in Science from the Gujarat College, Ahmedabad, in 1908. He was a Dakshina Fellow of the College for one year in 1909 before taking to his law studies. He passed his Law examination in First Class in 1912. Entering the legal profession in 1913, Mavalankar established himself as a leading lawyer within a short time. Along with his flourishing legal practice, he took keen interest in social work which brought him in contact with eminent national leaders like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Mahatma Gandhi. Even from his early twenties, Mavalankar was associated with several major social organisations in Gujarat, either as an office bearer or as an activist. He was the Honorary Secretary of the Gujarat Education Society in 1913 as also the Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha in 1916. From a very early age itself, Mavalankar began to be actively associated with the Indian National Congress, which was spearheading the movement for national freedom under the leadership of Gandhiji. He played an active role in the freedom movement in Gujarat Iduring 1930 to 1940. In the course of the movement, he was imprisoned several times and spent nearly six years in Jail. Whenever there was a natural calamity, famine or other social or political crisis, Mavalankar came forward to help the people, totally suspending his lucrative legal practice.He held many organisational posts .From 1919 to 1937, he remained a member of the Ahmedabad Municipality. Twice during 1930-33 and 1935-36, he served as its President. He had held many organizational post in Gujarat.Hw was an author of repute.His legislative career began in 1937, when he was elected to the then Bombay Legislative Assembly representing the city of Ahmedabad, With his standing as an eminent lawyer and with his quarter century long experience in diverse capacities in the service of the people of Gujarat, he was the immediate choice of the Assembly to be its Speaker. Thus, he had the distinction of starting his legislative career occupying the office of the Speaker itself. Years later, this was to be repeated at the national level also, when he was elected to preside over the Central Legislative Assembly in 1946. Mavalankar remained Speaker of the Bombay Legislative Assembly from 1937 to 1946.His success as the Speaker of the Bombay Legislative Assembly made him a natural choice of the Congress Party for the Presidentship of the Sixth Central Legislative Assembly in January 1946, the nomination by the Opposition Congress Party in Itself was not enough to ensure his election in an Assembly in which the majority of members was on the Government side which had put up its own candidate. However, after a keenly contested election, Mavalankar emerged victorious. This only proved his popularity among the members of the Assembly cutting across party lines.He remained Speaker of the Central Legislative Assembly till the midnight of August 14-15, 1947 when, under the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the Central Legislative Assembly and the Council of States ceased to exist and the Constituent Assembly of India assumed full powers for the governance of the country. In the wake of India's Independence, he headed the Committee constituted on 20 August 1947 to study and report on the need to separate the Constitution-making role of the Constituent Assembly from its legislative role. Later, it was on this Committee's recommendation that the legislative and Constitution-making roles of the Assembly were separated and it was decided to have a Speaker to preside over me Assembly when it functioned as the legislative body for the country. Here again, the choice of the person to preside over the Session of the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) fell on him and accordingly he was elected to the office on November 17,1947. With the adoption of the Constitution of free India on 26 November 1949, and the consequent change in the nomenclature of the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) into that of the Provisional Parliament, there was a corresponding change in the status of him also. He thus became the Speaker of the Provisional Parliament o November 26, 1949.He continued to occupy the office of the Speaker throughout the Provisional Parliament, i.e. till the First Lok Sabha was constituted in 1952. This period, in fact, represented a very crucial phase in the history of the Indian Legislature as it was to oversee the process of transition from a colonial institution into a sovereign Parliament under the Constitution of Independent India. Also, it marked the beginning of a new era of fully responsible GovernmentCompatible with its new status, several procedural innovations and modifications were required to be introduced into the functioning of Parliament. It was principally the job of Speaker to be the harbinger as also the facilitator of these changes, he did not belie the expectations of the Parliament and the country at large on him. By the time the process of elections to the First Lok Sabha was completed in the country in 1951-52, Mavaliinkar was ready with rules, practices, procedures and conventions necessary for the smooth functioning of a representative Parliament in the country. No one was, therefore, surprised when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proposed the name of Mavalankar to be chosen as the Speaker of the First Lok Sabha of Independent India on 15 May 1952 and the House carried the proposal with 394 votes, against the opponent's 55. In the next four years when Mavalankar presided over the Lok Sabha, the country was to witness his unique qualities as an institution-builder. Because he could link the past precedents with the fresh needs and effect changes while maintaining continuity, his period of Speakership was the most fruitful one for the evolution of parliamentary procedures in India. Not only did he introduce several new rules and procedures, he also modified the existing ones to suit the new conditions. He organized Secretariat of the Lok Sabha.that was most crucial for the assertion of the independence and supremacy of Parliament in our system of government, to maintain an independent Secretariat of Parliament directly under the control of the Presiding Officers. So long as he remained the Speaker of Lok Sabha, he did not take any active interest in politics, even though he did not sever his linkages with the Indian National Congress. This linkage, however, did not affect his own conduct in Parliament. He remained non-partisan and as such earned the admiration and respect of the entire House although his Speakership.His tenure of Speakership was cut short abruptly by his untimely death in early 1956. Even while serving as Speaker, Mavalankar continued to be associated with a number of other organisations and trusts devoted to social service, rural uplift and development of the underprivileged classes in various capacities. to all parts of India, as he was anxious to personally see the working of all Centres and meet the ordinary workers. Even considerations of his own health and personal comforts did not deter him from undertaking long and arduous journeys. During the course of one such journey in January 1956, he suffered a cardiac arrest and eventually, on 27 February 1956, breathed his last in Ahmedabad. On his death, a grateful nation and its Parliament paid rich tributes to its distinguished Speaker who, along with other founders of the Republic, laid solid foundations for parliamentary democracy in India. . Let us join to pay our humble obeisance’s to his lotus feet & pay our respectful homage to him!
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