Karnataka’s Assembly turns 70 tomorrow

V. Venkatappa

V. Venkatappa | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 K. Hanumanthaiah

 K. Hanumanthaiah | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

H. Siddaiah

H. Siddaiah | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

On Saturday, the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka, formed following the general elections in 1952, will turn 70. It succeeded the erstwhile Mysore Provisional Assembly formed in 1949 and was the first Assembly after the Constitution of India came into being and after the first election based on universal adult franchise in the post independent India.

First meeting

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 18, 1952, the compact Mysore Legislative Assembly (as it was called then) met at the Assembly Hall of the Old Public Offices that now houses the Karnataka High Court. As against the current Assembly strength of 224 elected members and one nominated member, the first Assembly had 99 elected members and one nominated member. While June 18 marks 70 years of the Legislative Assembly in post independence period, the history of the Assembly in Karnataka goes back to 1881 when the first Mysore Representative Assembly was formed.

Mysore Legislative Assembly debates, available in the Karnataka Legislature library, chronicles how the first session unfolded.

The Rajapramukh and the erstwhile ruler of Mysuru Princely State Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar appointed V. Venkatappa as the interim Speaker to administer oath to the members and conduct election to the post of the Speaker. As the Leader of the House, K. Hanumanthaiah, the Chief Minister and Finance Minister, was the first to take oath, and on the first day 94 members took oath. Thomas Sydney A. was the first nominated member of the house. Lakshmi Devi Ramanna (Hoskote-Anekal), Siddamma B. (Davangere) and Subbamma B.L. (Chikkamagalur-Mudigere) were the three elected women members.

Gopala Gowda loses

The first election to the post of the Speaker was conducted on the first day through ballot paper in which noted socialist S. Gopala Gowda lost to Congress member H. Siddaiah by a huge margin. While Siddaiah polled 79 votes, Gopala Gowda could only muster 14 votes as the Congress had won a landslide victory in the just concluded election. The Congress had won 74 seats, followed by Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party 8, Socialist Party 3, Scheduled Caste Federation 2, and Communist Party of India 1, besides 11 Independents. Accepting defeat gracefully, Gopal Gowda, despite not having strength to win, justifies his decision to contest the election since the Congress had not reached out to the Opposition to have an unanimous election for the post of the Speaker.

Even the Speaker’s election was conducted in a confusion as members were not aware how much time they were allocated for elections and sought clarification from the interim Speaker. A couple of members wanted to know if members were absent when their names were called would they be allowed to vote again.

Five Ministers

The government headed by Hanumanthaiah had five Ministers – T. Siddalingaiya (Industries), A.G. Ramachandra Rao (Law and Education), T. Channiah (Public Health and Local Self Government), Kadidal Manjappa (Revenue and Public Works), and H. Sidda Veerappa (Home Affairs and Agriculture). Later, the House Committee, Committee on Privileges, Committee on Public Accounts and Estimates Committee were formed. The first Chief Minister of Mysore State K.C. Reddy, Kadidal Manjappa who briefly succeeded Hanumanthaiah as Chief Minister later and the future Chief Mminister D. Devaraja Urs representing Hunsur were in the first Assembly.

Later, after the re-organisation of the States in 1956, the strength increased to 208, which increased to 216 in 1967, and 224 in 1978.

First Budget size was ₹201 crore

The first session of the first Karnataka Assembly met between June 18, 1952, and June 30, 1952, during which the Budget was presented by Hanumanthaiah. While the tentative agenda circulated among the members had budget presentation on June 20 and the Rajapramukh had fixed the date, the government did not present it on that day citing lack of time for discussion. Several members also took objection to it.

Eventually, the revenue deficit Budget with a total outlay of ₹201 crore against the anticipated revenue of ₹200 crore, a deficit by ₹1.01 crore was presented on June 23. For comparison, Karnataka’s budget size for 2022-23 is ₹2,65,720 crore.

The first Assembly session and the Budget came amid failure of rainfall and distress condition in Kolar, Tumakuru, Chitradurga, and Bengaluru districts causing serious hardship to people. The Centre had also stopped the food subsidy to the State by then, adding to the State’s burden. As many as 15 Bills were considered by the Assembly in its first session.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 9:07:05 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnatakas-assembly-turns-70-tomorrow/article65523380.ece