On Saturday, Ritu Khanduri of the Bharatiya Janata Party was elected as the fifth Speaker of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly, becoming the first woman Speaker of the state Assembly. Khanduri succeeded BJP’s Premchand Aggarwal whose term ended on March 10. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami congratulating Khanduri said that under her leadership, the state Assembly would create a new history.
“I want to congratulate Ritu Khanduri for being elected as the first woman speaker of the state Assembly. She will run the House well and our Assembly will create new history under her leadership,” Dhami said on March 26.
I want to congratulate Ritu Khanduri for being elected as the first woman speaker of the state Assembly. She will run the House well and our Assembly will create new history under her leadership: Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami pic.twitter.com/5D1YJJbvcP— ANI UP/Uttarakhand (@ANINewsUP) March 26, 2022
Meanwhile, Khanduri expressed her gratitude and thanks for being elected unopposed as the first woman Speaker of the State Assembly and said that it was a proud moment not only for her but for the entire Uttarakhand. “This is a proud moment not only for me but for the entire Uttarakhand too that a woman has been elected unopposed as the Speaker. I am delighted. This is an honour for women, for Uttarakhand”, she said.
This is a proud moment not only for me but for the entire Uttarakhand too that a woman has been elected unopposed as the Speaker. I am delighted. This is an honour for women, for Uttarakhand: Ritu Khanduri on being elected as the Speaker of Uttarakhand Assembly pic.twitter.com/pqJFbMEo4D— ANI UP/Uttarakhand (@ANINewsUP) March 26, 2022
“I will discharge the highest parliamentary ideals and traditions to the best of my abilities”, she added on Twitter. Khanduri had contested and won the 2022 Uttarakhand assembly elections from the Kotdwar assembly constituency. She won the Kotdwar seat by a margin of 3,687 votes and defeated Congress’ Surendra Singh Negi, who had defeated her father from the same seat in the 2012 assembly elections.
उत्तराखण्ड पंचम विधानसभा का निर्विरोध रूप में सर्वसम्मति से अध्यक्ष चुने के लिए पक्ष एवं विपक्ष के सभी सम्मानित सदस्यों का आभार व धन्यवाद।— Ritu Khanduri Bhushan (@RituKhanduriBJP) March 26, 2022
अपने संपूर्ण क्षमताओं से उच्च से उच्च संसदीय आदर्शों तथा परंपराओं का निर्वहन करने का पूर्ण प्रयास करूंगी। pic.twitter.com/WHuM3eHJnz
Before taking a plunge into politics, Ritu Khanduri worked as a teacher at Amity University in Noida. While being active in politics, Khanduri rose to public prominence in 2017 when she won the Yamkeshwar seat in the Uttarakhand Assembly elections. She was appointed to the State Committee on Information and Technology at the time. According to the reports, she was hesitant to leave the teaching profession and join politics but did so at the behest of her father Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri.
Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri had lost the assembly elections in the year 2012 from the Kotdwar seat to Surendra Singh Negi. He then happened to distance himself from politics. His legacy was later taken over by Ritu Khanduri who contested the Yamkeshwar seat for the first time and defeated former minister Surendra Singh Negi.
Interestingly, Ritu Khanduri’s brother, Manish Khanduri, is a member of the Indian National Congress and had contested the Lok Sabha polls from the Garhwal constituency in 2019, but lost the elections. In the 2019 assembly elections, Ritu’s father, Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, former CM of Uttarakhand, had refused to contest citing age-related problems. Following this, Tirath Singh Rawat contested from the Pauri Garhwal seat and won against Khanduri’s son.