BJP MLA Ritu Khanduri, the daughter of former chief minister B C Khanduri, was elected unopposed as the first woman speaker of the Uttarakhand Assembly on Saturday.
The announcement about her election was made by pro-tem speaker Banshidhar Bhagat. Her election to the post was a foregone conclusion as the main opposition Congress chose to stay out of contest.
Ritu Khanduri won from Kotdwar by defeating former minister S S Negi by more than 3,000 votes. She had won her maiden assembly election from the Yamkeshwar constituency in 2017.
Before taking a plunge into politics, she taught at a private university in Noida for several years.
In her maiden address to MLAs soon after her election, Khanduri exhorted first-time legislators to utilise five years of their tenure in learning about legislative procedures and participate enthusiastically in debates in the House on matters of public interest.
Congratulating her, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami dwelt on her academic achievements and said her assumption of office as the first woman speaker of the state was an acknowledgement of the valuable contribution made by women in Uttarakhand's movement for statehood.
"It is a historic day for us. We got our first woman speaker in you today. It is an honour for the entire women population of the state who played a stellar role in the formation of Uttarakhand," Dhami said.
Opposition members Pritam Singh and Yashpal Arya also congratulated her, saying they were confident she would carry forward her father's legacy of probity in public life and lay the foundations of healthy legislative practices.
Singh also expressed hope that under her stewardship, the House will pass a resolution granting 33 per cent reservation to women in the state legislature.