Speaker’s post transcends politics, says Khader
He pointed out that BJP MLAs now show respect to the Muslim speaker in the state assembly as the Congress party fielded 17 Muslim candidates in the elections.
Karnataka speaker UT Khader has said that the role of the speaker is a Constitutional position and should not be viewed through religious or political lenses. The statement came after a controversial remarks made by Karnataka minister Zameer Ahmed Khan, who had claimed that the Congress has appointed a Muslim person as the speaker (UT Khader), before whom the “best-of-the-best” Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders salute and say ‘Sahab Namaskar’.
During an election campaign in poll-bound Telangana, the minister pointed out that BJP MLAs now show respect to the Muslim speaker in the state assembly as the Congress party fielded 17 Muslim candidates in the elections. He specifically mentioned UT Khader, saying, “No one [from the Muslim community] in the history of Karnataka had become the speaker of the assembly. Congress party made UT Khader the assembly speaker. Today the best-of-the-best BJP leaders stand before Khader saying ‘Sahab Namaskar’. Who made him? It’s Congress,” Khan told a gathering.
In response to Khan’s remarks, speaker Khader maintained that the speaker’s post transcends politics and religion, highlighting its Constitutional significance. He asserted, “The respect shown to me is respect for the post and the seat. We should maintain the dignity of the post,” and refrained from commenting on others statements.
The speaker said that he won’t comment on remarks made by others. “I am not selected for the post on the basis of caste or religion. I have been appointed on eligibility and on the trust that I work as per the Constitution. I give respect and in turn get respect. I am working as the speaker representing all members. The speaker’s post should not be seen through the lens of caste or religion.”
BJP leader CT Ravi, while responding to Zameer’s comments, said, the BJP leaders are not saluting Mullah of Jamia Masjid, but a constitutional position. “The speaker’s position is not akin to that of a Maulwi in a mosque. BJP MLAs are not addressing the speaker as ‘Ji’ or ‘Huzoor’ as they would with a Maulwi. The respect accorded to the speaker’s position is not the same as the respect given to a Mullah in a mosque. Please refrain from diminishing the respect associated with this position. We are not saluting a Mullah. If individuals like you, who do not comprehend the Constitution, assume ministerial roles, these kind of misconceptions arise regarding the speaker’s position. Do not tarnish the stature of Khader.”
Meanwhile, a statement from Zameer ’s office defended his remarks, stating that during his role as a star campaigner in the Telangana assembly polls, he did not insult any individual or party legislators. The statement also highlighted the Congress party’s historic decision to appoint a speaker from the Muslim community, emphasising the respect accorded to the position in the legislative assembly by all party MLAs.
“In Karnataka, the Congress party has given the highest respect for the Muslim community and given the post of speaker for the first time in the history of the state. In the legislative assembly, all the Congress, BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs will address the speaker as honourable speakers. The Congress party has given that opportunity to rise to such a top post,” the statement read.