'Controversial' past haunts pro tem Speaker Bopaiah

'Controversial' past haunts pro tem Speaker Bopaiah

It was during senior BJP leader K G Bopaiah’s tenure as Legislative Assembly Speaker eight years ago that he disqualified 11 BJP rebel MLAs and five Independents ahead of a crucial floor test which ensured the survival of the then B S Yeddyurappa government.

On Friday, Governor Vajubhai Vala appointed Bopaiah, a four-term MLA as the pro-tem Speaker of the 15th Assembly to preside over the proceedings of oath-taking of newly elected members and subsequently a floor test on Saturday in the House.

Bopaiah, MLA-elect from Virajpet constituency in Kodagu district, was administered the oath of office by Vala at the Raj Bhavan on Friday thereby becoming the first member of the 15th Assembly. The Congress has taken objection to the appointment of Bopaiah as pro-tem Speaker citing his ‘controversial past’.

 As per practice, the Governor picks one of the senior most elected members as the pro-tem Speaker. Congress leader R V Deshpande is the senior most member in the House and has been elected to the Assembly for the 8th time.

The Supreme Court in 2011 had quashed Bopaiah’s decision to disqualify 16 MLAs ahead of the no confidence motion the previous year which had ensured survival of the Yeddyurappa government.

 A bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir while quashing Bopaiah decision said the basic constitutional values and principles of natural justice were not observed by Bopaiah in disqualifying the 11 rebel BJP and five Independent MLAs.

“The procedure adopted by the Speaker seems to indicate that he was trying to meet the time schedule set by the Governor for the trial of strength in the Assembly and to ensure that the appellants and the other Independent MLAs stood disqualified prior to the date on which the floor test was to be held,” the Supreme Court had stated in its order.

“Unless it was to ensure that the trust vote did not go against the chief minister, there was no conceivable reason for the speaker to have taken up the disqualification application in such a great hurry”, the apex court had stated.

Earlier in the day on Friday, the Supreme Court ordered a floor test to be conducted by 4 pm on Saturday following a petition filed by the Congress questioning the decision of Vala to invite Yeddyurappa to form the government.

The May 15 polls has thrown up a hung Assembly with the BJP emerging the single largest party with 104 seats. The JD(S)-Congress combine with 117 seats too had staked claim to form the government.