Karnataka Floor Test: Going Against Convention, KG Bopiah Appointed As The Presiding Officer
May 18th, 2018
In an out of convention move, the Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Valla decided to make KG Bopiah as the Pro Tem Speaker for tomorrow’s floor test. The norm which usually follows the seniormost MLA to be elected as the Pro Tem Speaker, in this case being Congress’s RV Deshpande, an eight-time MLA was overlooked, adding yet another controversial decision to the Governor’s tally. The Congress has already stated it is set to challenge this in the Supreme Court.
KG Bopiah, 62, is a five-time BJP MLA, and a former speaker of the Karnataka Assembly.
NDTV in its report noted that he had infamously disqualified 11 MLAs in 2010 for revolting against the then Chief Minister Mr.Yeddurappa, who was charged in the mining scam. Moreover, the move helped the BJP survive a trust vote, which was later cancelled by the Apex Court.
The noise over his appointment is due immense importance of this appointment. Some of the powers include:
- According to the Supreme Court order, a Pro Tem Speaker will play the role of a normal speaker and will exercise the same powers.
- He/She will also administer oaths to all newly elected MLAs.
- The speaker will also take a call on whether the vote will be through voice or ballot.
- In case of defections, the speaker has enormous powers in swinging the balance between sides.
Constitutional expert, PDT Achary, talked to Network18, said, “nothing constitutionally wrong in a pro tem speaker conducting a floor test”, but he added a caveat that he or she “can only perform the functions of a regular speaker in case the house is not able to select one”.
The power of a speaker can be illustrated using the example of outgoing speaker KB Koliwad, who did not disqualify 7 legislators for cross-voting in favour of a Congress candidate in a Rajya Sabha poll.
The Speaker’s role is going to be crucial and might decide the fate of this election. Due to his discretionary powers over the anti-defection law, BJP might be able to defect or abstain MLAs and get away with it, as seen and done in the past.
Also published on Medium.