Karnataka Minister for Housing, Waqf and Minority affairs, BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan, has sparked controversy by asserting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders are now obliged to respectfully greet the Muslim Speaker of the state assembly — UT Khader — a situation he attributed to the efforts of the Congress government in Karnataka.
“Today, the BJP has to stand up and say ‘Namaskaar, sir’ to our UT Khader. Congress has made this happen,” Zameer Khan stated at a public gathering in Telangana.
Khan emphasised the significant roles Muslim leaders have assumed within the Congress, citing various leaders and their positions. He noted that out of 17 Muslim candidates fielded by the party, nine were elected as MLAs, with five holding influential roles.
Specifically, he highlighted his own appointment to three ministerial portfolios, Rahim Khan as a Minister, Saleem Ahmed Khan as Chief Whip, and Naseer Ahmed as a political secretary.
He made it a point to mention that the previous governments in the state failed to appoint a Speaker from the minority community, whereas the Congress managed to do so, this time. Furthermore, he mentioned that the BJP has to now acknowledge Speaker UT Khader with respect.
Zameer Khan's controversial remarks come as the government prepares for the winter session of the Karnataka Assembly, scheduled to be held at the Suvarna Soudha in Belagavi from 4 to 15 December.
Responding to the statement, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy said, “We did not expect such a low-level reaction by Minister Zameer Ahmed. If the BJP decides not to stand up in the winter assembly session because of this statement, then what will be the fate of the assembly? If the Chief Minister has any sense, he should initiate action against Zameer.”
This incident comes months after the suspension of 10 BJP MLAs by Speaker UT Khader in July. The MLAs were disciplined for what Khader deemed "unruly" behavior and disrespect to the Chair after they were seen throwing torn Bills at Deputy Speaker Rudrappa Lamani.
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