Karnataka Speaker exits House with plea for electoral reforms

With a new government taking charge in Karnataka, Legislative Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar tendered his resignation on Monday, after making a strong plea for electoral reforms and strengthening of the anti-defection law.

Soon after the trust vote and passing of the Appropriation Bill, Mr. Kumar announced to the House that he was resigning as the Speaker with immediate effect. He handed over his resignation letter to Deputy Speaker J.K. Krishna Reddy.

Mr. Kumar, who ordered the disqualification of 17 rebel MLAs in the last few days, said the root of corruption was the enormous expenditure during elections. “If we speak of rooting out corruption without electoral reforms, it will only be hypocrisy. I request the House to discuss the issue of electoral reforms and send a resolution to Parliament.”

He said he had no illusions about creating history. “The Tenth Schedule needs a total re-examination. The law is not equipped with sufficient provisions to prevent defections. This House can ask Parliament to take a relook at it. If we do it, we will be putting moral pressure for an amendment,” he said.

The outgoing Speaker also called for effective implementation of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act. He said dynastic politics was a dangerous trend and that “we must re-examine the Representation of the People Act.” Though the Lokayukta Act made it mandatory for all elected representatives to declare their assets before June 30, there was no penal provision. “Why keep such a law? Moreover, the Election Commission too is silent on declaration of assets by candidates that runs into hundreds of crores of rupees,” he said.

‘No mandate’

Earlier during the debate in the Assembly, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah said the Bharatiya Janata Party had no mandate to form the government and termed it “unconstitutional and unethical.” Unfortunately, Mr. Yediyurappa had become the Chief Minister four times without a mandate, he said. “We desire that your government completes rest of the term. But there is no guarantee. You have to depend on dissidents,” he said and expressed doubts about its longevity.

Mr. Kumaraswamy took strong exception to Mr. Yediyurappa’s allegation that the administrative machinery had collapsed and said it was “baseless”.


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