Ahead of the floor test at 4 PM today in Karnataka Assembly, all eyes won’t only be on BS Yeddyurappa and whether he will be able to win the trust vote or not; but also on the pro-tem speaker KG Bopaiah, against whom the Congress is up in arms. The post of pro-tem speaker holds significance in view of the powers that the Chair enjoys in terms of the application of the anti-defection law during the floor test. So, it came as no surprise when the Congress was up in arms over the Governor’s move to appoint K G Bopaiah as the Pro Tem Speaker for tomorrow’s session. An old RSS hand, Bopaiah now holds key to the fate of BS Yeddyurappa and the BJP, and of course, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) alliance’s claim to power.
In fact, Senior Counsel for BJP Mukul Rohtagi while talking to media after the SC hearing on Saturday said that the Congress’ attempt to stop KG Bopaiah failed. “There is no order on division of votes because Cong was desperate in trying to secure some point or the other which will impinge on jurisdiction of speaker. The speaker has to decide on the rules of the assembly & he will do whatever possible for him,” he said.
But Bopaiah being a BJP MLA isn’t the only reason that opposition has reacted with rage over his appointment.
Who is KG Bopaiah?
K G Bopaiah is a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader. He was closely associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and had been an active member of the RSS’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, during his college days. He was among the leaders who were jailed during the Emergency.
He is an MLA from Virajpet seat and belongs to Kodagu Gowda caste. He became the Speaker of the Karnataka assembly in 2009 and also in 2012. He held the post of Pro Tem Speaker and then Deputy Speaker in 2012. He was the first person from Kodagu district to become the Speaker in 2009.
What happened in 2011?
In the aftermath of the mining scam during Yeddyurappa’s tenure, several BJP legislators had objected to the government under the leadership of Yeddyurappa.
In 2011, Bopaiah, as the Speaker, set up a committee that recommended the suspension of 11 rebel MLAs, as well as 5 independent legislators who revolted against the Yeddyurappa government.
The move came as a big reprieve for Yeddyurappa and even allowed the BJP government to survive in Karnataka and had also led the top court to reprimand the Governor for his role during the trust vote.
The Supreme Court had eventually upturned his decision and said that the Speaker should not have taken action against the MLAs simply because they had dissented against the BJP government.
“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,” TheNewsMinute quoted the bench as having said.