Staff Reporter

Infuriated Congress members troop into the well of the House shouting slogans against Krishna

Siddaramaiah says his removal cannot be taken as a precedent to install KumaraswamyLeadership of Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party is an issue that can be settled later: H.K. PatilSpeaker adjourns House twice as slogan shouting disrupts proceedings

BANGALORE: After a protracted debate and amidst noisy protests by Congress members, Legislative Assembly Speaker Krishna on Friday declared that H.D. Kumaraswamy had been recognised as the leader of the Janata Dal (Secular) Legislature Party.

The Speaker's attempts to announce his decision on the basis of a letter dated January 19 from Janata Dal (S) State unit President N. Thippanna seeking the recognition of Mr. Kumaraswamy as the legislature party leader were repeatedly stalled by the Congress members.

It also yielded an opportunity to the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to set the record straight on the "unceremonious manner in which I was dismissed a few months ago to be replaced by M.P. Prakash as Deputy Chief Minister and Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leader."

"My removal was illegal and unconstitutional. It was also against the party constitution. Only the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leader can summon a meeting of party legislators. However, when I was removed from the post and since you (the Speaker) gave the decision, we decided not to take the issue any further."

Mr. Siddaramaiah said his removal could not be taken as a precedent, and if the Janata Dal (S) had succeeded in its mission in getting Mr. Kumaraswamy appointed as the leader, it was only because the numbers were on his side.

Maintaining that he is still part of the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party, he reminded the House that after Mr. Kumaraswamy's surprise move, the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda had written to the Governor and the Speaker clarifying that Mr. Prakash continued to be the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leader, and no credence need be given to communications from any other individual or group.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said since he and seven others, who have been suspended, are still members of the Janata Dal (S), not giving them notice of the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party meeting was unconstitutional.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.K. Patil argued that the House was meeting for the purpose of establishing the majority or otherwise of the N. Dharam Singh-led coalition Government. The leadership of the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party was an issue that could be settled later.

Leader of the Opposition B.S. Yediyurappa noted that since Mr. Thippanna had given notice about the change in the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leadership, all that was left for the Speaker to do was to give his decision on the matter and there was no need for a discussion on the issue.

Water Resources Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge wondered why there was so much pressure on the Speaker to go through the exercise of recognising Mr. Kumaraswamy as the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leader. Technically, the post has not fallen vacant as Mr. Prakash maintains that he is still the leader of the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party, he said.

When mention was made of Mr. Krishna calling on the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Mr. Kharge said there is no bar on the Speaker calling on a leader who is unwell.

Health Minister N. Cheluvaraya Swamy rose to defend the decision to replace Mr. Prakash saying the same procedure was followed when Mr. Siddaramaiah was replaced as Deputy Chief Minister and Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leader.

When some members observed that Mr. Kharge had refrained from defending Mr. Siddaramaiah but was now questioning the replacement of Mr. Prakash, a ruffled Mr. Kharge said: "Don't play the backward class card with me. This is purely a legal issue." He turned to the Speaker at this point and urged him not to recognise Mr. Kumaraswamy as the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leader as it would not be constitutional.

But Mr. Krishna announced that after consulting legal experts, he had decided to recognise Mr. Kumaraswamy as the leader of the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party. Following this, Congress members trooped into the well of the House and began shouting slogans against the Speaker, who had to adjourn the House twice, even as his attempts to ask Mr. Dharam Singh to seek a vote of confidence was drowned in the din.

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