Ending weeks of political turmoil in Karnataka, the BJP government led by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa Monday sailed through the confidence motion in the Assembly. The process lasted for around an hour with the BJP placed comfortably in the numbers game after Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar Sunday disqualified 14 more rebels.
And as Kumar resigned as Speaker after the trust vote, two rebel Congress MLAs he disqualified on July 25, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli, approached the Supreme Court Monday alleging that the action smacked of bias, was “completely arbitrary…unreasonable…grossly illegal, irrational, mala fide and violative of constitutional mandate” and deserved to be set aside.
After brief speeches by Yediyurappa while moving the one-line motion expressing
confidence in the government headed by him, and by JD(S) and Congress leaders, the Speaker took up the trust vote and declared that it has been carried by voice vote amid thumping of desks by the treasury benches.
On Sunday, Speaker Kumar had disqualified 11 Congress MLAs and three JD(S) lawmakers until the end of the current term of the House in 2023, bringing down the majority mark to 105, equivalent to the current strength of 105 of the BJP, which also enjoyed the support of an Independent.
The Congress has 66 members, JD(S) 34, the Speaker (who has a casting vote in case of a tie) and one expelled BSP member who was thrown out of the party for violating its directive to support the H D Kumaraswamy government during the trust vote on July 23.
Yediyurappa was sworn in as Chief Minister for a fourth time Friday, three days after the Congress-JD(S) coalition government crumbled under the weight of a rebellion by at least 20 MLAs, who abstained from the trust vote that led to its defeat by 99-105.
With Yediyurappa proving the majority, the next focus is on cabinet expansion, which is likely to be completed by end this week, senior BJP leaders said. “One stage is over, BJP has won the floor test. Next course is Cabinet expansion. Our senior leaders both at the state and the Centre will sit together and decide on it at the earliest,” said senior BJP leader and MLA Suresh Kumar. The House also passed the Appropriation Bill, seeking a vote on account for three months and supplementary estimates.
The Finance Bill (Appropriation Bill) needed to be passed “urgently”, as otherwise “we will not be able to draw funds even to pay salaries (of government employees),” Yediyurappa had said on Sunday.
With the disqualified members losing membership until the end of the current term of the Assembly, the pressure on Yediyurappa to reward the rebels with ministerial berths has eased.
The Speaker had said on Thursday while announcing action against three rebels that a disqualified member cannot contest or get elected until the expiry of the term of the House, a contention strongly contested by the BJP, rebels and many legal experts.
In the Supreme Court, MLAs Jarkiholi and Kumathalli said in their petition that they have a fundamental right under Article 19 to carry on any trade, business and profession. “Their right to resign from the post of MLA and carry on any vocation of their choice including public service cannot be denied by the…Speaker by a completely illegal and unconstitutional order,” the plea said.
The Speaker, they contended, has grossly erred in holding that the resignations of the petitioners were not ‘voluntary and genuine’. Under Article 190 of the Constitution read with Rule 202 of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, a member can deliver a resignation signed in his own hand and the Speaker is only to satisfy himself about the “genuineness and voluntariness of the Resignation”.
“It is pertinent to state that the Petitioners have also filed affidavits before this Hon’ble court in the earlier proceedings stating that they have resigned voluntarily and their resignations may be accepted. And yet the Hon’ble Speaker has rejected the resignations submitted by the Petitioners on wholly extraneous grounds”, they said.
(— With PTI)