Karnataka Speaker UT Khader on Thursday said there is no proposal to remove the life size portrait of Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar from the Assembly chamber here.
Speaking to reporters in Belagavi, he said that he will go by the Constitution, amid speculations that Savarkar’s portrait that was unveiled during the previous BJP regime at ‘Suvarna Vidhana Soudha’ will be removed.
Meanwhile, Minister Priyank Kharge said that, if allowed, he would remove Savarkar’s portrait.
The unveiling of Savarkar’s portrait in December, 2022, along with several national icons, had drawn criticism from the then opposition — Congress — which had alleged that it was a unilateral decision, keeping them in the dark.
“I don’t know about the matter…there is no such proposal,” Mr Khader said, in response to a question about speculations that Savarakr’s portrait will be removed and it will be replaced with Mr Nehru’s.
Asked as to what he would do if such a proposal comes, he said, “let it come first…” Mr Khader on Sunday said the proposal to install the portrait of first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru inside the Assembly chamber, will be discussed.
In response to a question about the opinion expressed by some Congress legislators that the photos put up were not in accordance with the protocol, and they had to be done as per the rule, the Speaker said, “What has to be done in accordance with the Constitution, I will do it….I will function in accordance with the Constitution.”
Reacting to speculations, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday said it is left to the Speaker to decide.
Speaking to reporters today, Minister Kharge said in his personal opinion it would be appropriate to remove the portrait of Savarkar, and if allowed, he would remove it.
“But, it has to be done in accordance with rules, it is not in my hands, we will have to abide by what the Speaker decides,” he said.
Mr Kharge asked the BJP to answer his questions about Savarakar first, “after that, let them install his photo or erect his statue.”
“Who gave the title Veer to Veer Savarkar? There is no clarity on it. If they (BJP) knows, let them tell. Whether Savarkar was taking pension from the British or not? Did he write an apology letter (to the British) five to six times or not? Did his family write the apology letter or not?
“When Subhas Chandra Bose was organising the Indian National Army–did he not go against him and influence the people to join the British Army or not? What was his opinion on Gau Mata? Let BJP answer these simple questions,” he asked.
The portraits of Swami Vivekananda, Subash Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Basaveshwara, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and Savarkar were unveiled by then Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri and then Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, inside the Assembly chamber, just before the commencement of the 10-day winter session of the state legislature in this border district, last year.
The Congress led by Mr Siddaramaiah, who was then the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and party’s state president D K Shivakumar staged a demonstration outside ‘Suvarna Vidhana Soudha’ holding pictures of several top national and state figures like Kuvempu, Narayana Guru, Shishunala Sharif, Nehru, and Babu Jagjivan Ram.
Stating that it is his party’s demand that portraits of national leaders and social reformers should be installed in the Assembly and they are not protesting against any one portrait, Mr Siddaramaiah had then said, without any discussions or consultation unilaterally decisions have been taken to install certain portraits inside the House.
Meanwhile, senior Congress MLA Basavaraj Rayareddy is planning to submit a petition to the Speaker, seeking installation of portraits in the Assembly chamber as per “protocol”.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)