Cross-voting by 14 of the 120 BJP MLAs in the Presidential poll and a belligerent position taken against the government by its former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has put the Karnataka government and Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar in an uncomfortable position ahead of a crucial vote on the states finance Bill that is scheduled for July 30.
On Monday,Shettar and one of his deputies K S Eshwarappa announced the setting up of a committee to conduct an inquiry to find the MLAs who cross-voted during the secret ballot for the Presidential election.
While the identities of four MLAs from the Bellary Reddy faction,who supported the UPAs Pranab Mukherjee instead of the BJP-backed P A Sangma,is fairly clear,the identities of 10 others and the factions they belong to remain unclear causing the BJP consternation ahead of the passage of the finance Bill,where it requires a majority of 113 in the 224-member House. The failure of the government to pass the Bill could in an eventuality lead to the fall of the government. While the BJP has 120 elected MLAs,the combined opposition of the Congress and JD(S) has 103. However,BJP MLAs,who are known to be associated with a grouping of 20 members disgruntled over not getting Cabinet berths in the July 12 ministry formation,have indicated that they will not allow the Bill to be defeated.
Ahead of the Presidential polls there was evidence that the BJP stood as a divided house when only 69 of the 120 MLAs turned up for a legislature party meeting on July 16. With the BJP not having a party president since the elevation of Eshwarappa to the government on July 12 the partys legislators used the lack of leadership to skip the meeting called by Shettar. At the meeting,MLA Bellur Gopalakrishna,who is among a group of 20 rebels who are upset over not getting a ministry,had raised the question on who the BJP should support in the Presidential election. Gopalakrishna had suggested that it would be inappropriate for the party to support Sangma since the BJP governments Bill to ban cattle slaughter is pending before the President and the former Speaker had publicly acknowledged eating beef. The subject was laughed away,according to Gopalkrishnas own account.
On Monday,Yeddyurappa suggested that the BJP had erred in backing Sangma. All parties should have come together and there should have been a thinking to elect him unanimously but the lack of foresight,differences in opinion and other reasons made the election inevitable, he said while greeting the new President on the floor of the Assembly.
Ahead of the Presidential election,Yeddyurappa had suggested that Mukherjee was the best candidate.
Speaking on the drought situation in the Assembly on Monday he criticised his own party for failing to measure up to the needs of the affected people. He demanded a Rs 10,000 crore drought relief package.