Drama as trust vote delayed; BJP plans House sleepover.
Bengaluru: Karnataka stared at a constitutional crisis on Thursday after governor Vajubhai Vala directed embattled chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to seek a trust vote and prove his majority at the latest by 1.30 pm on Friday, hours after the Legislative Assembly adjourned without voting on the confidence motion moved by the CM on Thursday morning.
It remains to be seen if Mr Kumaraswamy will obey the directive going by the depleted numbers he has on his side — as many as 15 Congress and JD(S) MLAs have resigned and have made it clear that they have no intention of returning to Bengaluru to participate in the trust vote proceedings, virtually reducing the coalition government to a minority.
One Congress MLA — former home minister Ramalinga Reddy — returned to the Congress fold on Wednesday and has declared that he will withdraw his resignation and back the coalition.
However, the JD(S)-Congress combine suffered yet another blow on Thursday when Kagawad Congress MLA Srimant Patil got himself admitted to a hospital in Mumbai, claiming that he was suffering from chest pain, after making his exit from a resort in Bengaluru where Congress legislators have been lodged.
Though the Congress lodged a police complaint claiming he had been kidnapped by a former BJP MLA to prevent him from participating in the voting on the confidence vote, Mr Patil, in a video released later in the day, asserted that he developed chest pain suddenly because of which he had to rush to a Mumbai hospital for treatment. He said he has been regularly visiting the same hospital for treatment.
Chief minister Kumaraswamy has dispatched a police team to Mumbai to verify if he was coerced to leave. The Congress has alleged that Mr Patil was kidnapped.
Mr Vala’s directive to the CM setting a deadline for the trust vote was reportedly provoked by the decision of Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar not to act on the earlier advice by the Supreme Court to complete the process of voting on the confidence motion by the end of the day itself. Mr Vala issued the direction after the Opposition BJP, upset over the alleged tactics adopted by the ruling JD(S)-Congress coalition to delay voting on the trust vote, rushed a delegation to the governor.
Reacting to the governor’s directive, senior Congress leader and former Ballari MP V.S. Ugrappa said the move was unconstitutional as the session was on and the governor had no authority to order the CM to prove his majority.
The BJP is confident that it can defeat the confidence motion as it has the support of 105 of its MLAs and the two Independents, as against the 101 MLAs of the coalition (excluding the Speaker).
Earlier in the day, the state Assembly witnessed stormy scenes after Mr Kumaraswamy moved a confidence motion to prove that he still had the numbers despite the exit of so many legislators.
Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, in an apparent attempt to delay the debate on the trust vote, raised a point of order asserting that the Supreme Court, in its interim order on Wednesday, had prevented him from issuing a whip to his own Congress legislators. He said the vote of confidence could not be taken up till the issue was resolved, as it would become unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court order indirectly curtails the rights conferred on the legislature party leader in the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, argued Mr Siddaramaiah, adding that the Speaker should clarify the issue and on his rights as CLP leader.
The former chief minister also pointed that neither he, nor the Congress Party, were respondents to the petitions filed by the rebel MLAs in the court seeking early acceptance of their resignations and in these circumstances, he did get a chance to get a clarification on the issue.
Responding to this, the Speaker said he would have to consult the state advocate-general on the matter.
In a significant development that could put the Speaker and the Supreme Court on a collision course, the BJP is likely to move the Supreme Court, seeking its intervention inthe trust vote row on Friday or Saturday. “It is very evident that the Speaker will not opt to complete the proceedings unless the directions come from the apex court. Hence, we may move (the Supreme Court) though this move is still in the discussion stage only,” the source explained.
Before the Assembly was adjourned on Thursday, BJP state chief and Opposition leader in the Assembly B.S. Yeddyurappa declared that his party members would stay put in the Assembly at Vidhana Soudha itself overnight and till the time the trust vote was decided upon. “We will stay until the trust vote is decided,” an exasperated Mr Yeddyurappa, said while targeting the Congress-JD(S) combine for delaying the voting on the confidence motion.