Staff Reporter

Decision triggers noisy protest from Congress members

BANGALORE: After a protracted debate and amidst noisy protests by the Congress, Karnataka 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 is 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.

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 is for the Speaker to 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.