Karnataka’s finance Bill presented by the Congress-JD(S) government for the 2019-20 fiscal, was passed by the state legislature on Thursday. The Bill, which seemed to be in jeopardy when the Budget Session began on February 6 due to the absence of eight coalition MLAs, was passed without a hitch following the return of all coalition rebels and a BJP decision to not test the coalition.
The finance Bill, moved by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, was passed in the state Assembly by a voice vote from the treasury benches, even as the opposition BJP staged a protest in the well of the House against the government for ordering an SIT probe into audio recordings released by the CM on budget day, which allegedly showed efforts by the BJP to poach coalition MLAs.
The budget session had been packed with tension since it began due to the absence of the eight MLAs, and indications from the 104 member BJP that as many as 20 coalition legislators would go missing and put the passage of the coalition’s finance Bill in danger, causing embarrassment to the government.
The Congress, the JDS and the BJP all issued whips to their legislators, making it mandatory for all to attend the budget session. While two missing Congress MLAs – B C Patil and K Sudhakar – made their appearance on February 8, four Congress MLAs and a JD(S) MLA returned to the Assembly on Wednesday in the wake of Kumaraswamy releasing the audio recordings.
Congress rebels Ramesh Jharkiholi, Mahesh Kamatahalli, B Nagendra and Umesh Jadhav – whose disqualification was recommended by the party – returned Wednesday, but J N Ganesh, a Bellary MLA who is in hiding after attacking Congress MLA Anand Singh at a resort, remained elusive.
The coalition numbers, however, were not tested during the passage of the finance Bill since the BJP was engaged in protests.