Despite the return of four rebel Congress MLAs to the party fold on Wednesday, the Congress-JDS government in Karnataka remained edgy about pushing the state finance Bill through the legislature before the end of the budget session on February 15.
Both the opposition BJP and the ruling coalition have issued whips for presence of all their legislators over the next two days of the session, creating the impression that the passage of the finance Bill will be a tight affair.
The Congress-JDS coalition, which has accused the BJP of trying to poach its MLAs, is wary of the BJP calling for a division of votes when the finance Bill is up for passage, leading to the possibility of the defeat of the finance Bill and embarrassment to the government.
The ruling coalition returned to its full strength for the first time in the current session on Wednesday with Ramesh Jharkiholi, B Nagendra, Mahesh Kamatahalli and Umesh Jadhav attending the session and restoring the coalition number to 117.
The four MLAs had been threatened with disqualification two days ago by Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah after they did not attend the budget session despite a whip.
Despite the return of the rebels, coalition leaders are concerned over dissidents jeopardising the finance Bill on account of recent revelations from audio recordings of a sting operation — carried out by son of a JDS MLA on instructions of CM H D Kumaraswamy — on BJP leaders allegedly offering coalition MLAs huge amounts to defect.
Proceedings in the legislature were stalled for the third day on Wednesday with the BJP demanding a House committee probe into the tapes and the coalition pushing for an SIT probe.
“The BJP is anti-democracy and anti-Constitution. Their attempts to prevent the legislature session go to prove this,’’ Siddaramaiah said after the House proceedings were disrupted on Wednesday.
“We have created a system where defections are considered to be normal when they are not. The question here is of the system. A practice has set in over the last 10 to 12 years where people are being coerced into defecting… we are only trying to correct the system,’’ Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said in the legislature. “A House committee cannot correct the system,’’ he said.