The Karnataka Speaker election can very well become a trust vote of the Yeddyurappa government.

The Assembly Speaker election Why this is crucial for the Cong BJP and JDS
news Karnataka Elections Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 20:06

The BJP may be celebrating its party President BS Yeddyurappa being sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka, but the political action is far from over.

Ahead of the crucial floor test, Governor Vajubhai Vala will first have to appoint a pro-tem Speaker, under whom the MLA-elects will take their oath as Members of the Legislative Assembly.

So who is a pro-tem speaker?

Pro-tem, which is short for pro tempore is a Latin term literally meaning “for the time being”. A pro-tem Speaker is appointed by the Governor of the state for a limited period of time or until the Legislative Assembly elects it Speaker.

The pro-tem Speaker will also administer the oath to MLA-elects. A winning candidate will not officially become an MLA unless this oath is taken. Procedurally, the Governor elects the senior most member as the pro-tem Speaker.

The pro-tem Speaker will also oversee the election of Speaker of the Assembly, who is responsible for ordering a floor test, and even casts the deciding vote in the event of a tie. Under normal circumstances, the Speaker is first elected before the beginning of an Assembly session. However, given that the election of the Speaker is in a way a trust vote of the Yeddyurappa government, the pro-tem Speaker can end up ordering the floor test – as was the case in Goa in March 2017.

Sources in the Congress and BJP say that they have suggested candidates for Speaker, whose names will be sent to the Governor. The Congress is likely to nominate RV Deshpande, an eight-time MLA and the BJP is likely going to nominate Umesh Katti, who is also an eight-time MLA.

The Speaker elections

In the event that a Speaker election takes place in Karnataka ahead of the floor test, this is what is likely to happen.

221 members of the Legislative Assembly, who have taken oath as MLAs will have to elect the Speaker (HD Kumaraswamy was elected to Ramanagara and Channapatna). Whether the Congress, JD(S) and the BJP issue whips, however, is the question and could be crucial for the floor test, especially in the event of a tie.

The BJP currently has 104 MLAs, while the Congress-JD(S) coalition has 116 MLAs. On the face of it, it seems that the Congress-JD(S) coalition will be able to elect a Speaker easily. But is it really possible?

Here are the scenarios which could play out.

The BJP manages to get Congress and JD(S) MLAs to resign.

If the BJP has to be able to elect a Speaker of its choice, then the party has to convince 15 MLAs to resign before the Speaker elections or abstain from voting.

This way, the BJP will be able to bring down the strength of the house, to 206. If this happens then the 104 seats that the BJP has gained will make them the party with a clear majority and Yeddyurappa can continue being the Chief Minister.

The Congress-JD(S) coalition elects a Speaker

If the BJP’s Operation Kamala 2.0 does not succeed, it will ensure that the Congress and JD(S) coalition will have the ability to elect a Speaker as they currently have 116 MLAs.

In such a situation, the majority will automatically be proved in the Assembly and Yeddyurappa would have to resign from his post as Chief Minister.

From Eagleton to Kerala and Shangri-La to Hyderabad?

Bearing in mind these two scenarios, the JD(S) President and CM hopeful HD Kumaraswamy has sought Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao’s assistance in keeping the elected members safe, sources say.

Since Yeddyurappa has withdrawn the security provided at Eagleton Resort, where the Congress MLAs have been lodged, both the parties are now planning to move their candidates to other states, outside of Yeddyurappa’s reach.

Congress sources say that the party is looking at shifting their MLAs to Kerala, however, a decision is yet to be taken.

Sources in the BJP say that they have managed to lure seven elected members as of now - Anand Singh from Vijayanagara, Pratapgouda Patil from Ranebennur and Humnabad MLA Rajasekhar Patil. Sources also say that Kudligi candidate Nagendra is the point man, who has been assigned the task of turning in the Congress MLAs.

However, the drama is yet to play out. Will the BJP succeed?

Also read: Within hours of taking charge, BSY withdraws security at Eagleton, reshuffles top cops


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