The political uncertainty in Karnataka continued as Karnataka assembly was adjourned till Monday without taking up the voting on the confidence motion for the second day in a row.
Governor Vajubhai Vala had set a fresh deadline for Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to prove his majority on the floor of the House by 6 pm Friday. The second deadline was issued after the previous 1.30 pm deadline ended without the state Assembly taking up the floor test to decide the fate of the wobbly JD(S)-Congress government.
Referring to this second intimation by the Governor as his “second love letter”, Kumaraswamy has urged the Speaker to decide upon the floor test. “I have respect for the Governor. But the second love letter from the Governor has hurt me… I leave the decision on the floor test to you (the Speaker). It won’t be directed by Delhi. I request you to protect me from the letter sent by the Governor,” Kumaraswamy was quoted as saying by ANI.
The ruling coalition strength is 117— Congress 78, JD(S) 37, BSP 1, and nominated 1, besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, the Opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 225-member House. If the resignations of the 15 MLAs — 12 from Congress and 3 from JD(S) — are accepted, the ruling coalition’s tally will come down to 101 (excluding the Speaker), reducing the 14 month-old Kumaraswamy government to a minority.
Congress moves SC against its July 17 order
Meanwhile, Congress Karnataka chief Dinesh Gundu Rao moved the Supreme Court asking it to clarify the Congress Legislature Party’s right to issue a whip to its members. The matter is likely to come up for hearing Monday. Rao, in his petition, said the apex court order “whittles down” the power of a political party to issue whip to its MLAs as it has a constitutional right to do so and the court cannot restrict that. Rao added that the order was passed without involving the Congress legislature party, which presently has 79 MLAs in the Karnataka Assembly. “It is respectfully submitted that as a result of the order dated July 17, the constitutional rights of the applicant under the Tenth Schedule are vitally affected and as such the instant Application is being moved,” it said.
The Congress further submitted that under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, a political party has a right to issue a whip to its legislators. Similarly, CM Kumaraswamy also moved the top court seeking clarification of its July 17 order. He also said that the Governor cannot dictate the manner in which the debate on the confidence motion has to be taken up in the Assembly.
The first deadline of floor test
On Thursday, Vala had stepped in after the Speaker remained undecided on the resignations of the dissident MLAs. He had sent his first letter to Kumaraswamy directing him to prove his majority by 1.30 pm on Friday. He had observed that resignation of 15 MLAs of the ruling JD(S)-Congress and two independents “prima facie” indicated Kumaraswamy had lost confidence of the House. As the deadline neared, the ruling coalition raised questions regarding the governor’s power to issue such a direction.
Debate on Governor’s directive
As soon as the House met on Friday, BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa pressed for the division of confidence motion. Other members of his party too insisted that the CM should make it clear whether he would follow the governor’s direction. Following this, the Speaker reminded them that they cannot press for the division until discussion. Follow Karnataka Crisis LIVE Updates here
Citing a Supreme Court verdict that says a governor cannot act as ombudsman of the legislature, Kumaraswamy said he would not criticise the governor but leave it upon the Speaker to decide whether the deadline can be set by the governor. Speaker, on the other hand, maintained that it is the call of the chief minister to decide whether or not to follow the governor’s order as the letter was sent to him. “Whether the Governor’s order has to be followed or not will be decided by the Chief Minister because the letter was sent to him,” Speaker Ramesh Kumar said.
Congress members shout “Go back, governor”
Amid the din, the Congress members raised slogans like “Go back, governor” accusing the BJP of misusing the governor’s office to conspire against the state. Kumaraswamy too mounted an attack on the BJP accusing it of luring them the coalition legislators with Rs 40-50 crore bribe and bring down his government. He also alleged that from the very day of this government was formed, an atmosphere was created to prove that it was unstable. He further said: “…from the day I came to power, I know it won’t be for long… how long you will sit in power, I am here to see…how stable your government will be with the people who are now helping you,” he said.