Although the H D Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka has fallen after losing the confidence vote, the sword of disqualification still hangs on the heads on the 13 rebel legislators. Congress leaders were confident that they would be disqualified in a day or two, which would ensure that none of them could become a minister in the new government.
Sources said the party was keenly watching the BJP’s next move before deciding its next course of action.
A senior leader told The Indian Express that the Speaker’s decision on disqualification of the rebel MLAs would come in the next two days. “I am 100 per cent sure they will be disqualified,” AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal said.
Sources said the Speaker could not disqualify them before the confidence vote because, as per rules, seven days’ notice is a must for disqualification. The seven-day period ends Wednesday.
The rebels MLAs have, on the other hand, written to the Speaker seeking four weeks to respond to his summons on the disqualification petition moved against them by Congress leader Siddaramaiah. The MLAs have told the Speaker that they have not yet received the copy of the petition and other documents seeking their disqualification.
“You are aware that Disqualification Rules, 1986, require a minimum of 7 days period. In spite of the same, the proceedings are being hurried up. I am not in station now and I require to consult my lawyer after receiving the papers. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Balachandra L Jarkiholi vs B S Yeddyurappa reported in (2011) 7 SCC 1 has held that 7 days notice period is mandatory. In these circumstances, I request you to grant four weeks time to appear,” the MLAs’ letter said.
The MLAs had got protection from the Supreme Court against disqualification for not participating in the confidence vote despite the whip issued by the Congress. But Congress leaders claimed the party had demanded their disqualification before the Supreme Court verdict.
The Congress, meanwhile, hit out at the BJP, saying the “sabotage of a duly elected government in Karnataka carried out by the BJP is one of the most heinous and subversive instances of blatant political horse trading the country has ever witnessed”. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “From its first day, the Cong-JDS alliance in Karnataka was a target for vested interests…Their greed won today…”Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted, “One day the BJP will discover that everything cannot be bought, everyone cannot be bullied and every lie is eventually exposed…”
But the fall of the coalition government could not have come at a worse time for the party which has plunged into crisis since Rahul Gandhi stepped down as its chief following the Lok Sabha election rout.
“The driver has run away after the accident. The party is in a mess. What else do you expect?” a senior leader told The Indian Express when asked why the party could not save the government.
“The coalition government was brought down by the nefarious joint efforts of the central government, governor, state government of Maharashtra and central BJP leadership. BJP carried out this political drama by offering huge amounts of black money and ministerial berths to the defecting MLAs. The BJP also misused central agencies like Enforcement Directorate and Income-Tax for blackmailing and coercing MLAs. BJP has carried out one of the biggest political subversions and hawala transaction to destabilise the coalition government in Karnataka,” Venugopal said.
He said the party would hold nationwide protests “against the immoral, blatant and brazen political destabilisation carried out by the BJP”.