Karnataka Governor has appointed senior BJP leader KG Bopaiah and MLA-elect from Virajpet constituency as the pro-tem Speaker.
Karnataka is set to witness a trust vote on Saturday evening after a direction by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also said that the pro-tem Speaker will order and oversee the trust vote in the Assembly.
KG Bopaiah was the Karnataka Assembly Speaker from 2009 to 2013. He was appointed the pro-tem Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly in 2008 by Governor Rameshwar Thakur.
A pro-tem Speaker is appointed by the Governor of the state for a limited period of time, or until the Legislative Assembly elects its Speaker.
As per standard practice, the Governor elects the senior most member as the pro-tem Speaker.
Congress leader RV Deshpande is the senior-most member in the House and has won elections eight out of nine times that he has contested the elections since 1983. Meanwhile, the second-most senior leader in the House is BJP’s Umesh Vishwanath Katti – who has won seven out of eight elections since 1985.
Both JD(S) and Congress have opposed the Governor's move.
Shocking decision by the Hon’ble Governor..Constitutional Convention says the seniormost,in this case RV Deshpande should’ve been named. Also Supreme Court had passed structures against the conduct of KG Bopiah as Speaker.— Dinesh Gundu Rao (@dineshgrao) May 18, 2018
Sad to see Vajubhai Valaji behaving like an agent of BJP. pic.twitter.com/q78Awzq1iu
Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented the Congress in the Supreme Court on Friday, said: "What the BJP has done is not the right thing. By asking a person who is not the senior-most MLA to be a pro-tem Speaker. But, that is, at the moment, under consideration. Today, the pro-tem Speaker requirement remains while the SC is two-fold: a) Swear himself, sit there and b) to swear the others and immediately after that, without anything else, to carry out the vote."
Bopaiah is known to be a trusted ally of BS Yeddyurappa. In October 2010, during the crisis surrounding the illegal mining scam, several MLAs from the BJP within the party had objected to the government under the leadership of Yeddyurappa.
Speaker Bopaiah in a controversial move had disqualified 11 rebel BJP MLAs and 5 independents. This had played a major role in the survival of the BJP government in Karnataka, the first time that they had won in a south Indian state.
He had also earned the ire of the Supreme Court for the decision and the manner in which he acted during the trust vote. The Supreme Court had quashed his decision and said that it did not meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play.
A Bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Cyriac Joseph said that the Speaker should not have taken action against the MLAs simply because they had expressed their dissent against Yeddyurappa government.
The Bench said, “There was no compulsion on the Speaker to decide the Disqualification Application filed by Mr Yeddyurappa in such a great hurry within the time specified by the Governor to the Speaker to conduct a Vote of Confidence in the Government headed by Mr Yeddyurappa. It would appear that such a course of action was adopted by the Speaker on October 10, 2010, since the Vote of Confidence on the Floor of the House was slated for October 12, 2010.
“The element of hot haste is also evident in the action of the Speaker in this regard as well. The procedure adopted by the Speaker seems to indicate that he was trying to meet the time schedule set by the Governor for the trial of strength in the Assembly and to ensure that the Appellants and the other independent MLAs stood disqualified prior to the date on which the Floor Test was to be held.”