The maiden session of the 14th Legislative Assembly, in which the Congress has emerged the ruling party, is set to commence here on Wednesday with the first two days set aside for the new members to take oath.
The Speaker of the Assembly is scheduled to be elected on Friday, and in all likelihood, 82-year-old Kagodu Thimmappa is likely to be the unanimous choice. He has been a member of the Legislative Assembly for four terms and has been elected from Sagar constituency of Shimoga district. The swearing-in of the new members will be conducted by pro-tem Speaker Malikayya Guttedar. The session will be for a short duration (until June 7) with the Governor delivering his address to a joint session on June 3, followed by a discussion on the motion of thanks to the Governor for his address over the next four days. In all likelihood, there will be no discussion on any legislative matter or even the introduction of Bills.
The new Assembly will be witness to incumbent Chief Minister Siddaramaiah having to face three former Chief Ministers in the Opposition — H. D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular), who has since been nominated for recognition as Leader of the Opposition, Jagadish Shettar of the Bharatiya Janata Party and B.S. Yeddyurappa of the Karnataka Janata Paksha.
Should the BJP fare better than the JD(S) in the elections to the Periyapatna seat, which is highly unlikely, then the post of the Opposition leader will again change. As of now, Mr. Kumaraswamy stands a better chance of being recognised as Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, a post that carries with it the perks of a Cabinet Minister, though his party and the BJP have won 40 seats each in the 225-member Assembly. This is because the Janata Dal (Secular) polled more votes than the BJP in the Assembly polls held on May 5.
Interestingly, the Governor’s address — the second in four months — will reflect the direction in which the new government proposes to move, including the continuation of the welfare schemes announced by the previous dispensation. The Governor had earlier addressed a joint session (the first session in a new calendar year) on February 4 and the motion of thanks to the Governor’s speech was adopted without much debate. It will be the first session when the strength of the BJP has sharply declined in over a decade. Further, there are two new political parties with elected representatives to the legislative assembly— the KJP and the BSR Congress of B. Sriramulu.