Bengaluru: Senior BJP leader and six-time MLA Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri was on Wednesday unanimously elected the 22nd Speaker of the Karnataka legislative assembly.
The election of the Speaker was necessitated after K R Ramesh Kumar resigned from the post on Monday, soon after Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa proved majority on the floor of the assembly, three days after he was sworn in.
Kageri, MLA from Sirsi, who had filed his nomination on Tuesday, was elected unopposed, as Congress and JD(S) did not field a candidate against him.
Kageri, a staunch RSS man, who began his career with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, was a surprise pick as former Speaker K G Bopaiah's name was doing the rounds.
As the House met for the day, Deputy Speaker Krishna Reddy initiated the election process and Yediyurappa proposed Kageri's name, which was seconded by Basvaraj Bommai (BJP). Following this, the proposal to elect Kageri was adopted by a voice vote.
Then Yediyurappa and Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah escorted Kageri to the Speaker's chair.
On assuming office as the Speaker, Kageri thanked the members of the House for unanimously electing him.
Defending his Sangh Parivar links, over which some members passed some comments while congratulating him on becoming the speaker, Kageri said he was a swayamsevak and was in RSS.
"I'm what I'm today is because what I have learned from the sangh..." he said.
Stating that everyone has a right to believe in their ideology, Kageri said "Some people have spoken about Hindutva ideology of the organization I come from.
The SupremeCourt itself had said Hindutva is a way of life.... it is a symbol of our nationality."
Earlier during his intervention, while congratulating Kageri and expressing trust in him to keep up the democratic values, Congress leader Siddaramaiah, pointing at Kharge's association with RSS and ABVP said, "you will not have that infection now, from here on you are non-partisan."
Ramesh Kumar too spoke about RSS' belief in "Manuwada", which was in contrast to Ambedkar's philosophy of inclusiveness, which is also enshrined in the Constitution.
Kumar however, also expressed appreciation and admiration about the simplicity and conduct of RSS workers, irrespective of his difference with their ideology.
Several BJP leaders like Jagadish Shettar and K S Eshwarappa defended RSS and its ideology, stating that it completely believes in inclusiveness and unity, while efforts are on for a long time now to project it otherwise, limiting it to Hindus, especially upper castes.
Yediyurappa, during his intervention, thanked opposition parties for their cooperation in electing Kageri unanimously.
He also praised Kageri's "clean image" and said his conduct and experience would help him in running the House smoothly.