BJP joins race for Karnataka speaker as Kumaraswamy govt readies for floor test today
The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government will seek to prove its majority on the floor of the Karnataka assembly on Friday even as the race for the speaker’s post has kicked off, with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s MLA , S Suresh Kumar and Congress MLA KR Ramesh Kumar submitting their nominations on Thursday.
Ramesh Kumar is acceptable to both the Congress and the JD(S) as he was formerly a member of the Janata Dal. He has previously served as the speaker of the assembly 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.
Deputy chief minister G Parameshwara appealed to the opposition on Thursday to not contest the post and allow Ramesh Kumar to become the speaker, considering his experience in the post.
“The post of speaker is above politics as the person so selected has to rise above party politics while holding the chair. In this light, considering Kumar’s previous experience in the post and his seniority, I appeal to the opposition to not contest the post.”
The speaker is voted in by the new assembly, and as the Congress and JD(S) have a combined strength of 119 MLAs, including two independents, Kumar is expected to sail through. However, both sides are tense and have not ruled out the possibility of cross-voting by MLAs.
The choice of Ramesh Kumar was revealed by KC Venugopal, Congress general secretary in charge of the state, on Tuesday, as part of the coalition agreement between the two parties.
With the support of 78 legislators and two independents, the Congress is set to get 22 of the 34 ministries, while the JD(S) will get the rest, including the chief minister’s post, for which HD Kumaraswamy was sworn in on Wednesday.
Suresh Kumar said he was bowing to the BJP’s decision asking him to contest the Speaker’s post. “The party has asked me to contest and I am bowing to its directions,” he said. However, with 104 seats out of 221, the party lacks the numbers to push his candidature through on its own.
Suresh Kumar has won five elections since 1994 from the Rajaji Nagar constituency in the state capital.