The opposition Congress in Karnataka on Tuesday (March 3) sought Governor Vajubhai Vala’s intervention to allow the House to discuss BJP MLA’s derogatory remark against centenarian freedom fighter HS Doreswamy.
During an anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act rally last month in Vijayapura city, North Karnataka, BJP MLA from Basanagouda, Patil Yatnal questioned the credentials of Doreswamy.
Yatnal had called him a fake freedom fighter who behaved like a “Pakistan agent”.
Doreswamy, born on April 10, 1918 near Mysuru joined the freedom movement in his 20s after which he was arrested for joining the Quit India movement.
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The 102-year-old freedom fighter stood against the oppressed and fought for the rights of farmers, marginalised community and against the lethargic attitude of people in power towards the poor.
In 2016, when the winter Assembly sessions in Karnataka began 300 miles away from the state capital Bengaluru, the unrelenting old man travelled all the way to Belagavi and staged a civil resistance movement outside the legislative house demanding land rights for landless farmers.
From land encroachment to garbage issues, transgender rights, and farmers’ concerns, Doreswamy led several citizens’ movements over the years.
At the age of 97, he began a movement to stop waste dumping on the outskirts of Bengaluru in Mandur (which now has stopped).
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Doreswamy in the recent past stood against the policies and communal agenda of the BJP.
While the opposition parties disrupted the first two days of budget sessions in the Assembly, on Wednesday (March 4) a delegation led by Siddaramaiah met the Governor requesting him to use his authority as an opportunity to discuss the issue in the Assembly.
The leader of the opposition (LoP) Siddarmaiah demanded that Yatnal be expelled for violating the provisions of the Constitution and they be allowed to raise the issue in the Assembly under a rule giving residuary powers to the Speaker.
The Congress leader said Yatnal’s comments violated Article 51A of the Constitution, related to fundamental duties. He specifically pointed out that his derogatory comment violated the provisions in the Constitution which said: “to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom.”
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However, the ruling party members including Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy objected to the move. The speaker did not let the discussion continue.
The speaker on Tuesday ruled that the incident happened outside the House and hence it did not violate the fundamental duties under Article 51(A) of the Constitution.
Hence angered by the Speaker’s decision, Siddaramaiah and his party workers sought the government to invoke his powers under article 175 of the Constitution to direct the assembly to discuss important issues.
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While Yatnal stood by his comment and expressed his unwillingness to offer an apology, several BJP legislators stood by him and questioned the Congress and the freedom fighter for their alleged comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the right-wing icon Veer Savarkar.
Congress has even been demanded revocation of his assembly membership. But the opposition ended the stalemate considering the important budget discussions in the Assembly.
“Keeping in mind the interest of the state and debates concerning development issues, we decided not to continue the protest,” Siddaramaiah said.