Congress leader Ramesh Kumar elected Karnataka Speaker
Congress MLA KR Ramesh Kumar was unanimously elected as the speaker of the Karnataka assembly on Friday morning, ahead of a floor test to verify the Congress-JD(S) combine’s majority in the house.
“I want to express my gratitude to Opposition leaders for having decided to make it a unanimous election. It is quite rare to have a unanimous candidate like this,” chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said soon after Kumar was voted in.
BJP leader Yeddyurappa, who delivered his address after Kumaraswamy, said his party withdrew the nomination of its candidate to “maintain the dignity of the speaker’s post”. Saffron party MLA S Suresh Kumar had submitted his nomination for the speaker’s post on Thursday.
Kumar is acceptable to both the Congress and the JD(S) as he is a former member of the Janata Dal who served as the assembly speaker between 1994 and 1999. Ramesh Kumar first won an election in 1978 as a Congress member before moving to the Janata Dal in 1985. In 2004, he moved back to the Congress and has been with the party ever since.
As no political party or pre-poll alliance had secured a clear majority in the Karnataka assembly elections, the Congress and JD(S) came together to stake claim to power in the state under Kumaraswamy. However, as both the parties wanted to take no chances ahead of the floor test on Friday, their MLAs continued to remain behind closed doors of resorts to prevent any attempt by the BJP to poach them. While the Congress lodged its MLAs at the Hilton Embassy Golflinks in Domlur, their JD(S) counterparts stayed put at the Prestige Golfshire Resort off Devanahallion on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
“Our MLAs will be in the resort till the floor test is over. They will then be free to unite with their families,” a Congress leader had told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
While the Congress has 78 legislators, Mr Kumaraswamy’s JDS has 37, and the BSP of Mayawati has one. The alliance also claims support of two more lawmakers, including an independent. The BJP, despite being the single-largest party in the assembly, has just 104.
High drama followed the vote-counting day for the Karnataka polls on May 15, with governor Vajubhai Vala inviting Yeddyurappa to become the chief minister in his capacity as the nominee of the single-largest party. The JD(S)-Congress combine, however, protested on the grounds that they had the required numbers. The Supreme Court later ruled that the trust vote be held on May 19 (as opposed to the governor-granted period of 15 days), forcing Yeddyurappa to step down in the face of certain defeat.
The governor then invited Kumaraswamy to become the chief minister. The swearing-in ceremony took place on May 23 in the presence of several political leaders opposed to the NDA combine, including Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Samajawadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, BSP supremo Mayawati and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury. The event was largely seen as a display of Opposition unity in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls next year.