Over the last few days, K R Ramesh Kumar has made all efforts to ensure the Congress-Janata Dal-Secular coalition stays in power, resulting in him being under tremendous pressure, reports Karan Choudhury.
His close friends find him a man of reason. Calm and always ready to ‘talk it out’, K R Ramesh Kumar, speaker of the Karnataka assembly, has made a number of friends over the years, not only in the Congress but also in the Opposition.
Holding the fort for the crisis-hit ruling Janata Dal-Secular-Congress coalition, the last few days have taken a massive toll on the 69-year-old five-time MLA from the Srinivaspur constituency of Kolar district.
The flashes of anger and exasperation witnessed by many around him over the last few days indicate the pressure he is under at the moment. Kumar, who is holding the keys to the kingdom, has been in focus and the topic of all political discussions happening in Karnataka at the moment.
“Kumar is a stand-up guy who is not swayed by waves. He has always stood for what is right. Now also he is trying to do his level best to do the right thing. But he has been under tremendous pressure,” said one of his friends who has closely worked with him for many years.
Over the last few days, Kumar has made all efforts to ensure the coalition stays in power. Even after a Supreme Court order, Kumar ruled out any immediate decision on the resignation of rebel MLAs, saying he cannot be expected to work at ‘lightning speed’.
He kept the Bharatiya Janata Party guessing his next course of action even after 10 dissident MLAs appeared before him following the court order. Though they submitted their resignations afresh for acceptance, Kumar said while the letters were in the ‘right format’, he would have to examine whether they were ‘voluntary and genuine’.
On Friday, he said that a slot would be allotted whenever Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy opted for it. “The chief minister has spoken his mind that he would not cling to power amid the confusion. He said he will seek the trust of the House. When he tells me that he wants to move the trust motion, I will put it in the business of the day the very next day,” he told reporters.
According to his close associates, for Kumar, it is his belief in certain ideas that drive his actions. “Even when he returned to the Congress from the Janata Dal, it was because of his belief in certain ideas. While he has been an important member of Karnataka politics and held important positions, it was not power but his ideas about what he thought was right, no matter the cost, drove his decisions,” said his friend and aide.
Starting his political career in the 1970s, Kumar has been known among his contemporaries to be an excellent orator. While he first joined the Indian National Congress, he moved to the Janata Party in the mid-1980s and the Janata Dal in the 1990s. He came back to the Congress.
Between 1994 and 1999, he was Speaker of the state assembly. He also held the health and family welfare portfolio earlier.
Others believe that Kumar has been brash in the way he has dealt with the whole situation. Many senior BJP leaders claimed that the Speaker should have acted on the resignations as soon as they were submitted to him, instead of sitting on them for so long.
“He has given the Congress a lot of time to regroup and think of their next move. When the resignations were submitted to him, he should have acted quickly, instead of dilly-dallying,” said a senior BJP leader in the state.