Speaker, Sir

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have heaved a collective sigh of relief at the election of K G Bopaiah as the 17th Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, but the visible lack of satisfaction in the party rank and file over the victory tells its own story. The BJP election managers’ palpable tension over the outcome of the election in the run-up to the election is indicative of the erosion of confidence in the ruling party in recent months.

The manner in which the ruling party rushed the election through on Wednesday may have only given satisfaction to the Opposition. The leaders of the Congress and Janata Dal(S) knew that their candidate, T B Jayachandra, had no chance of winning the election.
Yet they fielded him only because they sensed the unease within the ruling party battered by acute dissidence and lack of discipline. That the party enjoying a more than comfortable majority in the Assembly could descend into panic by the mere act of the combined Opposition putting up a joint candidate will surely encourage the two main Opposition parties to continue their alliance into the BBMP elections and beyond.
Although it is too early to say what all this would mean for politics in the state in the coming days, it is now quite certain that the floods of October and the raging dissidence that followed has eroded the BJP’s political capital and its sense of assurance.

Bopaiah has much on his plate. He occupies a chair once graced by eminent personalities such as S R Kanti, Vaikunta Baliga and K S Nagarathnamma who handled the proceedings in the House with aplomb, grace and wisdom. Flaming oratory, constructive opposition, consensus on issues and mutual respect across the aisles were a hallmark of the state Assembly in the past. The politicians of the past were men with a sense of history and vision, most of them having participated in the freedom struggle. To expect such standards of business in today’s House is unrealistic. The least that Bopaiah could do is try and bridge the chasm of mutual trust between the ruling benches and the Opposition and enable the House to function and not become a byword for bedlam. Here is wishing a him Happy New Year and a distinguished stint as Speaker.

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