Just before Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s trust vote today, the BJP changed its mind on putting up a fight for the post of Speaker. The party withdrew its candidate Suresh Kumar, allowing the Congress nominee KR Ramesh Kumar to win unopposed.
Though Congress was able to win the Speaker’s job, a comment from Kumaraswamy’s signaled uneasiness and strain between the allies.
In a discussion following the speaker’s election, Mr Kumaraswamy said: “When Siddaramaiah proposed your (Ramesh Kumar’s) name and filed the nomination yesterday, I should have been present too.”
Later, before proposing the trust vote, the Chief Minister said that he was “hurt” at not winning the people’s mandate. “I became CM because of coalition, not happy about the position,” he remarked. Ramesh Kumar was the Speaker of the house from 1994 to 1999.
Suresh Kumar, a five-time BJP lawmaker, had earlier said based on numbers and other factors, his party was confident he would win.
The BJP is the single largest party in the Assembly with 104 MLAs. The Congress has 78 legislators and Mr Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular has 37.
The BJP took the decision apparently after failing to rack up the support of additional lawmakers to ensure its candidate’s victory.
Just as the house started, Suresh Kumar said he was withdrawing his nomination as asked by the BJP leadership.
“On the directions of our party, I had filed the nomination for the post of Speaker. Now, after discussion in the party, it is felt that the Speaker has to be elected unanimously following the parliamentary traditions. I’m withdrawing my nomination,” tweeted Suresh Kumar, who had filed his nomination yesterday.
“We withdrew our candidate as we wanted the election to be unanimous in order to maintain the dignity of the Speaker’s post,” said the BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa in the assembly.
Many saw it as a barb at the Congress, which had gone to the Supreme Court against the election of BJP lawmaker KG Bopaiah as interim speaker to preside of Mr Yeddyurappa’s trust vote last Saturday. The court rejected the Congress’s argument that Mr Bopaiah was not suitable for the post as he had been known to break rules to help Mr Yeddyurappa in a past vote.
The trust vote never took place as Mr Yeddyurappa resigned after failing to get the numbers needed for a majority.
Today, Mr Kumaraswamy and Mr Yeddyurappa escorted Ramesh Kumar to the chair after his election.