Opposition walks out over denial of longer discussion on flood damage

Speaker refuses to extend session citing decision of Business Advisory Committee

Curtailing of the ongoing winter session of the legislature to three days led to some heated arguments between the Opposition and the ruling BJP on the opening day, with the former seeking extension to discuss the disaster caused by floods and rains across the State. This was turned down by the ruling party, resulting in the combined Opposition Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) members walking out, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House.

While Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri stuck to the decision of the Business Advisory Committee and asked the Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah to complete the discussion on floods by Friday afternoon, Opposition members vehemently opposed it, resulting in a heated debate.

It all started when Mr. Siddaramaiah, after speaking close to two hours during which he touched upon the travails of flood victims, requested the Speaker to adjourn the House to Friday so that he could continue. Law Minister J. Madhuswamy, however, insisted that the House should continue its business on Thursday evening enabling them to complete discussion on floods, including a response from the State government on measures taken by it by Friday afternoon. Refusing to continue further, Mr. Siddaramaiah said: “Legislators representing the flood affected region also want to raise their problems. Even during my tenure as Chief Minister, the House has been extended many times.” He also assured the government of cooperation in passage of the Appropriation Bill.

When the Speaker pointed out the decision of the BAC earlier in the day, Mr. Siddaramaiah shot back saying it was a “unilateral decision” to which the Opposition is not a party, while seeking at least three days to discuss flood damage. A host of JD(S) legislators also supported Mr. Siddaramaiah and sought more time. “A three-day session was decided when the byelections were planned for October. Now with the bypolls being postponed, the session can be extended to 10 days. How can you discuss floods and also demands of 35 departments (as part of Budget discussion) within three days,” JD(S) legislator Shivalinge Gowda asked.

The intervention of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who said legislators can return to their constituency to take up relief work if the House business is completed in three days, also did not help. As the treasury benches did not agree to adjourn the House for the day or extending the session, former Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar said the government might as well put the Budget proposals to vote immediately and wind up the session. Finally, the Opposition walked out.

‘How can you be demoted?’

Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah teased Revenue Minister R. Ashok at least a couple of times for the latter missing out on the Deputy Chief Minister post. Mr. Ashok, a former Deputy Chief Minister, who was widely believed to get the post, lost the race to C.N. Ashwath Narayan during cabinet formation. “How can you be demoted? I am sad that you did not become DCM,” Mr. Siddaramaiah said. When he referred to it for the second time, Mr. Ashok said: “I had asked to be kept away from the post.”

Modi lacks a ‘mother's heart’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have a 56-inch chest, but he lacks a ‘mother’s heart’, said Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah. “Even pailwans and bodybuilders have chest, much more than 56 inches. But Mr. Modi’s 56-inch chest lacks the kindness of a mother’s heart. We do not have objection to his foreign travel. But what should have been his priority when lakhs were homeless here? He is careless and did not show interest in flood victims,” he said.

Of the Janata Parivar

During his speech, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah referred to Law Minister J. Madhuswamy, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, and Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol as “friends from Janata Parivar” who have risen to prominent posts in other parties. Mr. Bommai quickly intervened and said: “All of us have got power. You (Mr. Siddaramaiah) only know what we have gone through. I will not explain,” he said, referring to developments in the Janata Dal.

Subbaiah’s name added later

The obituary motion adopted in the Assembly on Thursday had left out the name of politician A.K. Subbaiah. It was added after former Speaker K R. Ramesh Kumar drew the attention of Speaker Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri to the omission. Mr. Kageri said the veteran’s name had been left out as he had not served as member of the Assembly and that his obituary reference was going to come before the Council. However, he included his name in the motion.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 1:07:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/opposition-walks-out-over-denial-of-longer-discussion-on-flood-damage/article29649689.ece

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