The Karnataka Legislative Assembly experienced tumultuous scenes on Monday (11 December) as the BJP-JD(S) coalition staged protests, demanding the removal of Housing Minister Zameer Ahmed Khan over his "Muslim Speaker" statement.
During a rally in Telangana, Zameer remarked that the Congress in Karnataka had appointed U T Khader as the first Muslim Speaker in the assembly, stating that BJP leaders must pay respects before him and say namaskar.
As the Question Hour commenced, BJP and JD(S) MLAs entered the well of the House. The Opposition contended that Zameer had shown disrespect to the Speaker's chair. Speaker Khader had to adjourn the session for an hour, and attempts to broker a truce failed as the Opposition sustained its protest.
Leader of the Opposition R Ashoka initiated the protest, accusing Zameer of fuelling communal tensions.
According to Deccan Herald, he asked, "Zameer has disrespected the chair. He has fueled Hindu-Muslim divisions. Are we slaves for him to say such things?" He invoked the past, recalling a minister in the S M Krishna government resigning after making controversial remarks.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, a supporter of Zameer, defended him, asserting, "he hasn't used any unparliamentary language. He hasn't disrespected BJP members. He hasn't done anything to breach their privilege."
Siddaramaiah argued that Zameer merely highlighted the appointment of a Muslim Speaker by the Congress, calling for respect from all, including the BJP.
Speaker Khader resisted the BJP's demands and continued with legislative business. He rebuked the protesting members, stating, "I can’t allow you to take the entire House for a ride. You should seek my permission with a notice to discuss such matters. I can’t allow this."
Zameer attempted to address the House but faced jeers from the BJP. Khader deemed the row over Zameer's statement as "trivial" and urged the protesting members to prioritise issues concerning farmers and north Karnataka.
The BJP's day-long protest in the well of the House on Monday followed the party's missteps in floor strategy the previous week. Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar remarked, "this is a show of unity from a divided BJP".
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