One of the concerns that Congress leaders have as the Karnataka legislative assembly enters a phase of uncertainty on account of the resignation of 16 MLAs from the ruling Congress-JDS coalition is that the Speaker of the state assembly K R Ramesh Kumar will show no favouritism despite being a Congress leader for many years.
With the resignation of the 16 MLAs hanging in the balance, the Supreme Court ordering a status quo on processing the resignation/disqualification of 10 of the MLAs, and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy likely to seek a vote of confidence Monday, the Speaker is in the spotlight.
Once upon a time, the 69-year-old five-term MLA from the Srinivasapura constituency in the south Karnataka district of Kolar had a reputation of being a rough politician on account of his name being linked to a murder probe in his Srinivasapura constituency.
Since his ascent to positions of power including the Speaker of the state assembly between 1994-99, Kumar has earned the reputation of being a knowledgeable, well-read man, who has occasional flashes of temper but is a smooth operator in general.
As a legislator, Kumar was known to be an orator who made thought-provoking speeches in the assembly and tried to guide young legislators about the history of the legislature, politics and the world in general– often diving into folklore and religious texts to drive home points. Often frustrated over not being made a minister despite winning many elections, Kumar was finally made a minister in the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2016. He served as the health minister and is best remembered for attempting to make private hospitals and clinics more accountable to patients.
With his sizable experience as a Speaker, Kumar is known to generally follow the rule book when it comes to making decisions. “I cannot stray away from what the rules state even if it benefits some but not others,” Kumar said after deciding to examine in depth the resignations of 10 MLAs who met him on Thursday on the directions of the Supreme Court.