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From TV Serial to Assembly Soap, Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar is No Stranger to Drama on Camera
Kumar has fought all 10 Assembly polls since 1978, winning six of them. He was first elected as the Speaker when HD Kumaraswamy’s father and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda became chief minister in 1994.
File photo of Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar (PTI)
Bengaluru: Six-time MLA KR Ramesh Kumar, who resigned from the post of Karnataka Assembly Speaker on Monday, had held the coveted post for the second time in 25 years. His decision to ignore “instructions” sent by Governor Vajubhai Vala to complete the floor test at the earliest led to a direct clash between the two top constitutional functionaries in the state.
Kumar is known for his no-nonsense approach and daring nature. As a member of the Youth Congress, he was selected by the then chief minister late D Devaraja Urs as a party candidate in the 1978 Assembly elections.
Brahmins make up just a few thousands in Kumar’s constituency of Srinivasapura in Kolar district. Since Kumar came from a Brahmin background, he was able to defeat the powerful Reddys and entered the state Assembly in his 20s. His voters reverentially call him “Swamulu”, which means ‘lord’ or ‘master’.
Kumar has fought all 10 Assembly polls since 1978, winning six of them. It is a coincidence that he was first elected as the Speaker when former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s father and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda became chief minister in 1994. People still remember some of Kumar’s rulings and the way he conducted the Assembly during an open war between Deve Gowda and the then CM JH Patel. Kumar had joined Janata Party in 1985 and returned to Congress in 2004.
Kumar, a voracious reader, is a lover of art, literature, television, cinema and intellectual activities. After losing the 1999 Assembly elections as Speaker, he took to television serials. Kumar acted in the super-hit serial ‘Muktha’, directed by veteran filmmaker TN Seetharam, which aired on ETV Kannada in the early 2000s. His role as a judge made Kumar a household name across the state in no time. He also acted in a few more serials and movies.
A brilliant orator and a debater, Kumar is an old friend of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Since he is originally from the socialist movement, Kumar also shares a great personal rapport with many former socialist leaders across the country. He considers Devaraja Urs his guru and says he is indebted to him for bringing him into politics even though he hails from a numerically insignificant Brahmin caste.
“I am from a Brahmin caste. In my constituency, we are a minor caste. The majority people have rejected their own powerful caste candidates and elected me six times in the last 40 years. I am grateful to them. I am above caste considerations. This is what public life should be like,” said Kumar.
In the previous Siddaramaiah government, Kumar was the minister of Health and Family Welfare. His open war on what he called a private hospital mafia made him a hero among the public.
After the JDS and Congress came together to form a coalition government in May last year, Kumar was once again made the Speaker keeping the alliance’s precarious position in mind, claim coalition leaders.
“His command over law and constitutional matters is really great. He is committed to the welfare of poor people and an honest man. He is uncompromising, sometimes rigid. But he will never do anything against his conscience. He strictly follows rules and traditions” said senior Congress leader Prafulla Madhukar, who is Kumar’s long-time friend.
Kumar, also known for his great sense of humour, makes the MLAs laugh even during tense situations in the Assembly. During the trust vote debate, JDS MLA KM Shivalinge Gowda compared the “rebel” lawmakers to Chambal dacoits. Interrupting him, Kumar asked, “Why are you insulting the dacoits by comparing them to our MLAs?”
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