Scene of Karnataka political drama is now on the floor of the Assembly where anything is possible.
Bengaluru: All eyes are on the floor of the Karnataka Assembly where the MLAs gathered to take their oath today in the morning. The oath-taking period is the only window available for a cornered BJP to woo the vulnerable Congress and JD(S) MLAs and coax them to abstain from voting.
Reports indicated that Anand Singh of the Congress did not turn up for oath taking ceremony. That reduces the number to 221 in the Assembly.
Earlier, the Supreme Court refused to enter into the legislative space over the appointment of KG Bopaiah as pro-tem speaker by Governor Vajubhai Valla. Dismissing the Congress-JD(S) petition, the court point blank asked the petitioners if they want a floor test or confusion. The court also pointed out that appointing a pro-tem speaker is the prerogative of the Governor and that appointing the senior-most MLA as pro-tem speaker is only a convention, not law.
Coming back to the voting, who are the MLAs that the BJP is desperately trying to woo? Sources say it will be the 18 Lingayat MLAs from Congress and two from JD(S),
The BJP’s hope is that these Lingayat MLAs might cross-vote in favour of the trust vote or abstain. This is because their political future will be at stake if they incur the community’s wrath.
It is a fact that these Lingayat MLAs were upset with Congress plan to divide the community. They are also very upset that the Congress is siding with the JD(S), a Vokaliga party which is perceived as anti-Lingayat. Moreover, they do not want carry the blame for denying the CM’s post to Yeddyurappa, the tallest and unchallenged leader of the community.
The MLAs are also not sure if the JD(S)-Congress marriage of convenience will last more than six months. If a divorce happens and fresh elections are declared along with general elections, these Lingayat MLAs in the Congress and JD(S) camp will stand no chance to win.
Many feel that Yeddyurappa’s defeat will lead to a further consolidation of Lingayat votes behind BJP ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, here are some possibilities that could happen today:
1. BJP prods at least 7 Congress/JD(S) MLAs to vote in its favour, and wins. But these rebel MLAs will lose their seats under anti-defection law. But they can stand for fresh elections as independents and win with the support of the BJP.
2. The BJP manages to get 14 Congress/JD(S) MLAs to resign soon after oath taking oath, or abstain from taking oath. This will bring down the strength of the House to 206 and the majority mark to 104. Again, these MLAs may face disqualification since they defied the party whip. But they could be re-elected in bypolls on BJP ticket .
3. If the House is plunged into chaos and pandemonium and a vote is not possible, the governor can intervene and keep the House under suspended animation.
4. Congress-JD(S) combine manage to keep their flock together and manages to defeat the trust vote. Then, Yeddyurappa will have to immediately resign. But as out-going CM, he can recommend that the House be kept under suspended animation as the situation is very fluid. Then it is upto the Governor. In fairness, the Governor cannot accept this and will have to invite the next combine which has the numbers and order a fresh floor test.
5. Yeddyurappa opts to do a Vajpayee and resigns before facing the floor test if he is sure that he is not able to get the numbers. He has done this once before, in 2007, when he was CM for 7 days.
In the present assembly, the BJP has 104 seats, Congress 78 and JD(S) with 37. Three seats have gone to others in the 224-member assembly where elections were held for 222 seats.
The majority mark was 112 seats but it has gone down by one to 111 as JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy has won from two assembly constituencies — Ramanagaram and Channapatna. However, he will be eligible to cast only one vote during the floor test.
Since the pro tem speaker is allowed to vote only in case of a tie, 220 votes can be cast initially, and the midway mark is 110. Not counting the speaker, BJP has 103 votes and needs 7 more to reach 110. Once there, the speaker is entitled to cast his vote and break the tie in his party’s favour.