In 2010, then Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa had needed a floor test to save his government when 16 MLAs withdrew support. He easily proved majority as the strength of the House got significantly reduced with the then Speaker disqualifying all 16 rebel MLAs. The matter reached the Supreme Court, which gave its judgment in 2011 that the Karnataka speaker had disqualified the 16 MLAs to ensure Yeddyurappa won the trust vote. The speaker in question was KG Bopaiah — the same man who Karnataka Governor Vajubjai R Vala on Thursday appointed the Pro Tem speaker to oversee the procedure when the BJP, once again under the leadership of Yeddyurappa, goes for a floor test on Friday to form government.
So, does this mean BJP has won the first round against the Congress-JD(S) combine that looks confident about its strength of MLAs ahead of Saturday’s floor test?
The BJP won 104 seats in the recently concluded Karnataka Assembly elections and is eight seats short of majority. Yeddyurappa, who was sworn-in as the CM on Thursday, will need 112 seats to bring BJP to power in the southern state. The floor test on 19 May will decide the three political parties’ fate.
In 2010, the SC had criticised Bopaiah’s action, terming it “drastic” and “partisan” with “extraneous considerations”. The SC had said it felt Bopaiah’s action failed the tests of natural justice and fair play.
“Unless it was to ensure that the trust vote did not go against the CM, there was no conceivable reason for the Speaker to have taken up the disqualification application in such a great hurry,” the SC had observed.
Who is KG Bopaiah?
The 63-year-old BJP leader from Medikeri, a lawyer by profession, has been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Sangh Parivar since childhood. He was also an active member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad during his college days. Arrested and sent to jail during Emergency in Bangalore, KG Bopaiah entered electoral politics in 2004 when he won the Assembly poll from Medikeri constituency on a BJP ticket.
In 2008, he was elected from Virajpet, and the BJP won the Karnataka elections for the first time. As Pro Tem Speaker, Bopaiah administered oath of office to all MLAs. Later, he became the Deputy Speaker, before being elected as the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on 30 December, 2009, following the resignation of his predecessor Jagadish Shettar.
KG Bopaiah was the first person from Kodagu district to become the Speaker of Karnataka Assembly.
He shot to fame in October 2011, when 11 disgruntled BJP MLAs, along with some independent representatives, revolted against Yeddyurappa’s leadership and withdrew their support to the BJP government. When a trust vote was needed for Yeddyurappa to remain in power, Bopaiah disqualified all 16 rebel MLAs and saved the BJP government in Karnataka.
Opposition Congress and other parties challenged the decision in the high court, which upheld it. But when the matter reached the apex court, it overturned Bopaiah’s decision. The Supreme Court said the Speaker acted in haste to let Yeddyurappa win the trust vote.
Bopaiah won the election from Virajpet once again in the 2018 elections, in which the BJP emerged as the single largest party but failed to get majority. In a controversial decision, he has been appointed as the Pro Tem Speaker again to oversee Saturday’s floor test, which has left the Congress worried.