Even as leaders paid gushing tributes to him, they lost no opportunity to take potshots at each other.

Karnatakas new Speaker injects humour in tense House as leaders trade barbs
news Politics Saturday, May 26, 2018 - 13:21

The Assembly session in Karnataka on Friday saw more drama ensue, and one man had the unenviable task of maintaining order in the House. Congress MLA Ramesh Kumar was elected Speaker of the House for the second time in his career after the BJP’s nominee, Suresh Kumar, pulled out of the race.

He was previously the Speaker from 1994 to 1999 when the Janata Dal government, headed by HD Deve Gowda and JH Patel were in power. On Friday, he oversaw a confidence motion in which Deve Gowda's son, HD Kumaraswamy, came to power as the head of a coalition government.

Both the BJP and Congress leaders in the House paid gushing tributes to the newly elected Speaker. "Even in 1994, there was a formidable Opposition, but you handled the House responsibilities well. You are a friend, philosopher and guide for the entire house," said Suresh Kumar, who delivered a concession speech.

Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara added that Ramesh Kumar's experience was an advantage in his role as peacekeeper of the House. "We have observed you in politics. The respect you have for the downtrodden and the poor is exceptional. Your experience from 1994 to 1999 will also help. You had followed the rules and responsibilities then, and I am sure you will do so again. The Karnataka Assembly will be a model for the country and there is a need for a Speaker like you," he said. 

Others, including Govind Karjol, Krishna Byre Gowda, P Rajeev and former CM Siddaramaiah, too offered words of praise for the Speaker. 

Ramesh Kumar thanked the leaders, especially from the BJP for their kind words. He also appealed to all members of the House to conduct themselves in a way that people would be proud of. "We have a democracy in the country due to the sacrifices of thousands of people and we should not let their sacrifices go waste. We should always keep people's interest in mind," he said.

As the session progressed however, the JD(S)-Congress combine and the BJP took every opportunity take potshots at one another, and Ramesh Kumar had to rely on his vast experience to keep the house in order.

The Speaker's zest and humour were highlighted when Congress leader DK Shivakumar objected to Leader of Opposition BS Yeddyurappa calling him 'kalanayaka' (villain). Shivakumar clarified that he was "only following party orders" as a commotion broke out in the House. It was the Speaker who brought order in the House once again when he quipped, "When you are a villain to him, you are a hero to someone else."

On another occasion, Ramesh Kumar pulled up Yeddyurappa for his remarks about Deve Gowda pointing out that the JD(S) patriarch "was not at the Assembly to defend himself". Yeddyurappa had criticised the father-son duo of Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda repeatedly in his speech.

"The Congress high command called Kumaraswamy to Delhi and none of the leaders from the state. They took the decisions. From today, our fight is not against the Congress or any Congress leader. Our fight is against the corrupt father-and-son duo,” he said in an emotionally charged speech. 

The freewheeling nature of the Speaker and his storied history with many leaders in the House was evident in the Assembly session. Ramesh Kumar pointed out that many of the major leaders in the House were junior leaders when he was Speaker in 1994. 

Also Read: HDK sails through trust vote, but a sore Yeddyurappa gets some punches in at the Assembly


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