It seems the Bharatiya Janata Party is leaving no stone unturned in Karnataka to form the government. The BJP is under fire from the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular alliance for allegedly pushing Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala into inviting BJP chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa to form the government despite being 8 seats short of the clear majority mark of 112 (with the total de facto strength at 222). The political tussle went up a notch when Vala appointed BJP MLA KG Bopaiah as the Pro Tem Speaker ahead of the floor test on Saturday.
The Congress leadership immediately hit back at the BJP for going against the book in appointing Bopaiah. The party said 8-time MLA RV Deshpande was the more meritorious candidate and deserved to be the speaker. And now, the Congress is moving the Supreme Court challenging Bopaiah’s appointment. But who is KG Bopaiah? Why is there so much anger against him?
KG Bopaiah completed his law as a gold medallist and started his practice in 1980. He had been closely associated with the RSS and Sangh Parivar, and was also an active member of the RSS student wing, the ABVP. He was sent to prison during the Emergency for participating in the movement against Kambadakada dam project in Kodagu proposed by the government in the 1970s.
In 1990, he was elevated from the post of General Secretary to the president of Kodagu district unit of the BJP and 14 years later, he was elected as an MLA from Madikeri constituency on a BJP ticket. In the subsequent 2008 elections, he was again elected BJP MLA but from Virajpet.
When BJP stormed to power in Karnataka in 2008, it was Bopaiah who administered oath of office to all MLAs while acting as a Pro Tem Speaker and then became Speaker. His most controversial moment as a BJP leader came in 2011.
In October of that year, 11 dissenting MLAs of the ruling BJP and some independent MLAs moved against the leadership of then Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and withdrew their support. Bopaiah disqualified the revolting MLAs to nullify their impact on the ruling government. His controversial move was instrumental in stabilising the Yeddyurappa government.
Later, Bopaiah’s decision was upheld by the Karnataka High Court but the Supreme Court overturned it. The court pulled him up and lambasted him for his haphazard decision-making during the trust vote. He is once again in the hot seat for Saturday’s trust vote and given his reputation in the House, it will not come as a surprise if a major ruckus breaks out.