Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, popularly known as Dadasaheb, was an independence activist, the President (from 1946 to 1947) of the Central Legislative Assembly, then-Speaker of the Constituent Assembly of India, and later the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India.
Early life and Education
Mavalankar was born on 27 November 1888 in Baroda, Baroda State. He was from a Marathi family but lived and worked in Ahmedabad, the former capital of Gujarat.
After his early education in Rajapur and other places in the Bombay Presidency, in 1902, Mavalankar moved to Ahmedabad for higher studies. In 1908, he obtained his B.A. Degree in science from the Gujarat College, Ahmedabad. He was a Dakshina Fellow of the College for one year in 1909 before starting his law studies in the Government Law School, Bombay.
He became the honorary secretary of the Gujarat Education Society in 1913 and the secretary of the Gujarat Sabha in 1916. In 1919, Mavalankar was elected to the Ahmedabad Municipality for the first time. He was a member of the Ahmedabad Municipality during 1919–22, 1924–27, 1930–33, and 1935–37.
Pre-Independence Political Career
Mavalankar entered the Indian Independence Movement with the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was appointed secretary of the Gujarat Provincial Congress Committee during 1921–22.
Although he briefly joined the Swaraj Party in the 1920s, he returned to Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha in 1930. After the Congress dropped its boycott of elections to the pre-independence legislative councils in 1934, Mavlankar was elected to the Bombay Province Legislative Assembly and became its Speaker in 1937.
Mavalankar remained the Speaker of the Bombay Legislative Assembly from 1937 to 1946. In 1946, he was elected also to the Central Legislative Assembly.
Mavalankar remained the President of the Central Legislative Assembly until midnight of 14–15 August 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 India.
Post-Independence Political Career
Just after independence, Mavalankar headed a 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, on the basis of this committee’s recommendation, the legislative and constitution-making roles of the Assembly were left and it was decided to have a speaker to manage over the Assembly during its functioning as a legislative body.
Mavalankar was elected to the office of speaker of the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) on 17 November 1947. With the adoption of the Constitution of India on 26 November 1949, the terminology of the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) was changed to the Provisional Parliament.
Mavalankar became the Speaker of the Provisional Parliament on 26 November 1949 and continued to occupy the office till the First Lok Sabha was constituted in 1952.
On 15 May 1952, after the first general elections in independent India, Mavalankar, who was serving Ahmedabad for Congress, was elected the Speaker of the first Lok Sabha. The House carried the proposal with 394 votes, against the opponent’s 55.
Death of Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar
In January 1956, Mavalankar suffered a heart attack and resigned from his office. He died on 27 February 1956 in Ahmedabad after cardiac arrest, aged 67.
His wife, Sushila Mavlankar, won the bye-poll caused by his death in 1956 unopposed. But she did not contest in 1957. His son Purushottam Mavlankar would later win this seat in the 1972 bye-poll.
Further, he along with Gandhi, Patel, and others was also one of the proposers of an institution like Gujarat University as early as the 1920s, which later came to be founded in 1949.