Karnataka Political Crisis: The Floor Test That Wasn’t
He was the man of the day but clearly, and in his own words, he didn’t really know ‘what he should do’.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar had a difficult time trying to handle the house after Siddaramaiah raised the ‘point of order’ that ruled out the possibility of a ‘trust vote’ taking place.
All eyes today, as far as Karnataka was concerned, were on the Speaker, K R Ramesh Kumar. But thanks to the chaos post noon and the proclaimed 'indecisiveness' of the Speaker, yet another day has passed without a stable government in the state of Karnataka.
The forenoon session saw Siddaramaiah raise the ‘point of order’, objecting to the vote of trust proposed by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. Despite objections by many in the opposition, the former chief minister spoke at length about how and why the Congress deserves to have the chance to issue a whip to the rebel legislators.
In the afternoon session, the Speaker Ramesh Kumar --- who had earlier mentioned that he would seek special and legal advise --- read out the Governor's letter, which asked him to hold the trust vote today, and left to meet the Auditor General, not returning until the house was adjourned for the day.
His conduct through the day has been 'indecisive' in his own words as he himself claimed 'he knows not what to do' about the proceedings of the house. But why is the Speaker so confused? Why does he not know better?
The Speaker has been clarifying verbally in the past few days and even more loudly and repeatedly through the session today, of his intentions to be "fair and unbiased" in the matter pertaining to the trust vote.
But strangely, in the early hours of today’s proceedings, when the opposition applauded in jest and laughed at Siddaramaiah’s slip of tongue, he cheekily remarked, "Let them laugh, they deserve at least some cheer," and shared a light moment with Siddaramaiah.
Despite umpteen objections to the long speech by the former chief minister, the Speaker came across as being overly calm and accommodating, repeatedly requesting the house to hear “this member of the house”.
However, for all other situations that arose in the house, his refrain was, “I do not know what to do”.
Wouldn’t it help to understand the reasons for the Speaker's dilemma since his actions were definitely not echoing the intent of his words? Well, here is a brief history of the man in question.
K R Ramesh Kumar is known as Siddaramaiah's right-hand man. As recently as February this year, Kumar had been all praise for his 'leader' and likened his walk to that of a tiger, saying that Siddaramaiah was his CM even though not the CM of the state at present and that he would be the CM in future.
Kumar had gone overboard in his praise for the former CM, calling him 'babbuli puli' of the state at an event in Kolar, where he couldn't stop enlisting his leader’s virtues. He also had lauded Siddaramaiah for all the development work in his area, saying that they were the result of "his leader's efforts”.
A year ago after the election results, when Siddharamaih lost from Chamundeshwari, Kumar had even gotten teary-eyed and said that the former CM's defeat was worse than his own death.
He had been quite melodramatic in reacting to the ‘unexpected defeat of Siddharamaiah from where he had won five times previously’. “The only thing we didn't do was fall at Siddharamaih's feet to contest from Kolar,” Kumar had remarked then.
The six-time MLA, who had also been the speaker during the tenure of H D Devegowda and J H Patil(1994-1999), had held the Health and Family Welfare portfolio in Siddaramaiah’s government.
Kumar has, however, also been accused of land grabbing by none other than H D Kumaraswamy, who had once openly called Kumar 'an opportunist'.
And, as for expecting him to respond to the whole argument of defection that Siddaramaiah had based his entire ‘point of order’ on, Kumar himself has a history of having begun his political journey with the Indian National Congress, then jumping to the Janata Party (mid 1980's), then switching to the Janata Dal (1990's), and then finally getting back to the Congress.
The Supreme Court had instructed the Karnataka Speaker, as did the Governor in his message, to hold the floor test today. But that has clearly not happened.
Instead, the latest development in the state is that the Speaker has sought to know if the house can be adjourned until the dilemma over the issuance of the Congress whip is over.
With the past fortnight’s build-up coming to a head in Karnataka’s political drama, the opposition party, led by B S Yeddyurappa, has decided to spend the night in the Vidhan Soudha, demanding that the floor-test, which was to take place on 18 July be held at the earliest.
The Governor has intervened and again ordered the Chief Minister to hold the trust vote by 1.30 pm on Friday (19 July).
Hopefully by then , the Speaker too shall know what to do.
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