Speaker Khader defends suspension of 10 BJP MLAs, says issue should not be politicised

PTI, Jul 21, 2023, 8:36 PM IST

Bengaluru: Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker U T Khader on Friday defended his decision to suspend 10 BJP members for the remainder of the session, which ended today, for their ”indecent and disrespectful” conduct in the House.

He said the matter should not be politicised as he did not take any political or a partisan call, and the action was not under any pressure from the ruling party as being alleged.

”The responsibility of smooth conduct of the Assembly is not only on the Speaker, all leaders and members should cooperate and behave responsibly for this. I did not take any decision in a partisan way. If any member behaves in an indecent manner, disrespects the Chair or brings disrepute to the system, I will have to take action being the Speaker, that is what I have done,” Khader said.

Speaking to reporters here, after adjourning the Assembly ‘sine die’, he said, ”with a lot of pain I had to fulfil that responsibility (by suspending), because all of them are my friends. There is no party issue here, action has been taken against legislators who behaved in an indiciplined manner.”

The Assembly on Wednesday witnessed chaotic and unruly scenes as angry BJP legislators tore copies of bills and the agenda and threw them at Deputy Speaker Rudrappa Lamani, who was presiding, following which Speaker Khader suspended 10 of them for the remainder of the session.

In turn, MLAS of the opposition BJP and JD(S) gave notice of no-confidence against the Speaker to the Assembly Secretary.

The events had unfolded as opposition BJP and JD(S) members protested from the well of the House, accusing the Congress government of deputing 30 IAS officers to ”serve” its alliance leaders, who had met in the city to strategise for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

Noting that he had allowed the leaders from the opposition side to raise the issue of alleged misuse of IAS officers on Wednesday, despite not having received a notice, the Speaker said, there was also discussion and the Law Minister responded to it.

When the BJP legislators resorted to protest from the well disrupting the proceedings, he said, ”I adjourned the House and called for a meeting in my chamber and requested for the smooth conduct of the Assembly…but BJP said they will continue to protest.”

Stressing on the necessity for the bills to get passed in the Assembly that day and sent to Council the next day, Khader said he allowed the bill to be taken up despite protests by opposition.

He said, as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was to reply to the budget discussion and there were many members yet to participate in it, going by the system adopted by earlier Speakers, he decided to continue with the proceedings, without breaking for lunch.

”To utilise the time, I said those who want to go for lunch can go and come back, and those who want to participate in discussion can speak. There is such a system.” He clarified that he had left the House and asked the Deputy Speaker to officiate, as he had to attend a special board meeting that was scheduled.

Khader said it was ”inevitable” for him to take action against indiscipline towards the Deputy Speaker. ”It is the minimum action that I have taken with pain. Personally I did not like to take action, but sitting in that Chair, if I didn’t take action, I would have been questioned, and it was necessary to avoid indiscipline in the future. I don’t favour any party and everyone is equal to me being the Speaker,” he said, adding that he is confident of cooperation from everyone in running the House in the future.

To a question on BJP alleging that being a Speaker he attended a ”political dinner”, Khader said, he had only attended a dinner hosted in honour of state guests, on the invitation of the Chief Minister, and did not attend any meeting. If someone else invites me for dinner or lunch, I will go… I’m inclusive and my conduct is within the limitations of the position I hold, and have not made any mistake,” he said.

Asked about BJP and JD(S)’ no confidence notice against him as Speaker, he merely said, ”everything will go by rules, whether it is me or anyone else.”

The opposition BJP and the JD(S) boycotted the proceedings of the Assembly on Thursday and Friday against the Speaker’s decision. BJP legislators staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the Gandhi statue at Vidhana Soudha and raised slogans against the government and the Speaker.

Responding to a question, Khader said, none of the leaders from the opposition parties came to meet him, asking him to reconsider the decision.

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