Speaker quits, calls for strict anti-defection law

K R Ramesh Kumar

Preempting any move by the BJP to oust him, Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar stepped down on Monday, but not before delivering a sermon on the need for electoral reforms and strengthening the anti-defection law. 

Announcing his resignation, Kumar said his entry into public life was an accident.

“It was during my student days that I accidentally got introduced to D Devaraj Urs. I have been stuck in this sludge ever since to reach this stage,” he said. 

It was only fitting that Kumar, on his way out, pitched for fortification of the anti-defection law under which he ordered disqualification of 17 rebel MLAs.

“The 10th Schedule needs a total relook. This House can press for that to happen and we can request the Assemblies of other states to follow suit so that pressure can be mounted on the prime minister and Parliament,” he said. 

Corruption in public life, Kumar noted, has its roots in current election system.

“Any talk of curbing corruption will not have commitment unless we push for electoral reforms. It should happen if we want the common man, the poor, to retain faith in the system,” he said.  

Kumar was unanimously elected Speaker last year, making it his second stint.

He was 45 when he first became the Speaker in 1994, perhaps one of the youngest to hold the position. 

Kumar, a Brahmin, represents the Srinivasapur constituency in Kolar. He has fought 10 Assembly elections since 1978, of which he has won six. 

Known for his affinity for the arts, Kumar has acted in some Kannada serials and his role in ‘Muktha’ is still remembered. 

Some laws were Sisyphean, he pointed out. “The Lokayukta Act requires public servants to declare assets and liabilities before June 30. What if they don’t? The Act is silent. Whom did you try to please while making this law? Annul it instead,” he said. 

The Election Commission has never, he said, probed into details candidates declare in their affidavit. “Affidavits must be sent to the Enforcement Directorate, probed and candidates must be made naked before the public. Only then will democracy have meaning.”

As Speaker, Kumar said he tried to be “loyal to the Constitution, true to my conscience and mindful of people’s sentiments...without allowing the chair to be tainted”.

Kumar wished Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa a fruitful tenure. “May you become the voice of the voiceless.”

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