She served for a time as a Union Minister. She was minister from 2002 to 2004, holding the portfolios for Human Resources, Communications and Petroleum. She is the eldest and seniormost among woman Members of Parliament in the 17th Lok Sabha. She is the second woman after Meira Kumar to be elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. An active parliamentarian, she not only headed important committees, but has also been a keen debater and avid questioner in the house.