Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, on Wednesday, 31 July, was elected as the Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker, after his predecessor KR Ramesh Kumar resigned from the post on Monday.
KR Ramesh tendered his resignation soon after BS Yediyurappa took oath as chief minister on Monday, following the fall of the coalition government last week. In one of his last acts before resigning, Kumar had disqualified a total of 17 MLAs from the Congress and JD(S), holding them in breach of the anti-defection law.
Addressing his newly appointed successor during session, he said, “The Constitution's aim was to end inequality. Ambedkar called for unified India based on Constitution but RSS called for unified India to be based on the idea of Hindu nation. We welcome the fact that you were part of that organisation and you are free to espouse any view. However you are now in a Constitutional position.”
Kageri reportedly responded by saying that he learnt social service while he was with the RSS and affirmed his impartial stance.
The six-time MLA was the only one who had filed nomination papers and the post usually sees no competition from the other parties in the house.
Born in Karnataka’s Sirsi, Kageri climbed up the political ladder after starting out as an active member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
He has served as the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education in the state government where he was lauded for sending his two daughters to government schools.
Soft Face of Coastal BJP
While Ananth Kumar Hegde, the Uttara Kannada MP, is the seen as the more outspoken voice of the BJP from coastal Karnataka, and often lands himself in controversy with his comments, Kageri is the more moderate BJP voice from the region with no links to major controversies.