Bengaluru, May 23 (IANS): Karnataka's former Minister and five-term MLA U.T. Khader on Tuesday filed his nomination for the post of the Assembly Speaker.
Khader, who was accompanied by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, DyCM D.K. Shivakumar and cabinet minister Zameer Ahmad Khan, filed his nominations at the Vidhana Soudha here.
He will be the first from the Muslim community to become the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. Sources in Congress said that he has agreed for a two-year term. The high command has agreed to give him a cabinet berth afterwards.
After veteran parliamentarian Bantwal Vaikunta Baliga, Khader is the second person from coastal Dakshina Kannada to become the Speaker of Karnataka Assembly.
Suspense over the new Speaker ended with the Congress nominating him. The House will elect the Speaker on May 24 and Khader is most likely to be elected unanimously as per tradition.
Siddaramaiah proposed his name and Shivakumar endorsed his candidature for the post. The nomination paper was submitted to the Secretary of Legislative Assembly Vishalakshi.
Khader is a soft spoken politician who got elected from Mangaluru (Ullal) constituency five times.
He worked as Minister for Health, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies in the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah in 2013. He also worked as the deputy leader of the opposition party in the state Assembly.
As seniors declined to accept the post and wished to continue as MLAs, the high command managed to convince young leader Khader for the post.
Sources explained that veteran leaders R.V. Deshapande, T.B. Jayachandra and H.K. Patil were the choices of the party. However, the seniors flatly refused the proposal. Deshpande even went to the extent of saying that he does not deserve the post.
AICC Secretary K.C. Venugopal and Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala personally spoke to Khader and requested him to take up the post in the interest of the party. They also assured him of due recognition by the party, the sources said.
Later, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah also spoke to him personally and convinced him. Though Khader comes from communally-sensitive Dakshina Kannada, he never made a provocative statement nor indulged in hate speech.
He has won the confidence of all sections of society cutting across the religious lines.
Khader pursued his B.A. L.L.B. at Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara College (SDM). He is interested in bike and car racing. He has taken part in state and national level championships and is passionate about sports and plays cricket, football, volleyball, hockey and tennis.
He was NSUI District General Secretary in 1990 and he served NSUI as Dakshina Kannada District President between 1994 to 1999. From 1999 to 2001, Khader served as the State Vice President of NSUI. He went on to become Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Secretary in 2008.
He represented the Assembly seat vacated following the death of his father in 2008 and till date he remains undefeated. He was honoured with the 'Sadana Veera' award for his performance as a legislator in the tenure of 2008 to 2013. He has also won the 'Shining India' Award for being the best legislator.
During his stint as the health minister under the Siddaramaiah government, he banned gutka, introduced bike ambulances, dialysis units in taluk government hospitals and was also awarded best health minister.
He is also known for streamlining and simplifying the process for obtaining ration cards as a minister of Food and Civil Supplies.