In a day of high drama, the Congress and BJP sharpened their knives ahead of tomorrow’s trust vote.
It was a day of political kite-flying and the rumour mills in IT city spun on mother of all jet fuels with claims, counter claims, kidnap, audio tape and a throw of dice where the numbers are clearly stacked against the BJP.
Amidst all the uncertainties, one things is for sure – this weekend is going to witness a political drama, a thriller where fair can be foul and foul fair.
But the most controversial move was made in the evening by Governor Vajubhai Vala who appointed 3-term BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as the protem speaker. Convention has it that the senior-most MLA should be the protem speaker, in the current case, RV Deshpande, an 8-term lawmaker and former minister from the Congress.
The Constitution or the Sarkaria Commission are silent on the issue of appointment of protem speaker. Moreover, there was a precedent when the Congress had earlier appointed a junior MLA as protem speaker in Jharkand. The Congress once again knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court in the night on the issue.
An earlier observation of the Supreme Court that almost called Bopaiah tainted came in handy for the Congress to point out that the protem speaker will not be fair.
The protem speaker can play a crucial role in the way the trust vote is conducted. He can interpret the rule books the way he thinks is right. And the rule book have many grey areas. According to the Congress, the Supreme Court had said that the vote will be held by show of hands. But when the final order came out, there was no mention of the method of voting. As per rules, it is the speaker, not the courts, who will decide on the method of voting.
Hence, Bopaiah, if he continues to be the protem speaker, can decide if the voting is to be held by secret ballot. Moreover, if a member seeks division, the speaker is bound to call for secret voting. That’s what the BJP wants as there is a possibility of Congress-JD(S) MLAs either abstaining or cross-voting.
On the ground, the Congress and the JD(S) whisked away their MLAs by bus late last night to Hyderabad. But after the Supreme Court ordered the trust vote tomorrow, the Congress made arrangements to bring them back.
The BJP claimed that 12 Congress MLAs and 8 JD(S) MLAs “are in touch” and that they will not vote for the Congress-JD(S) combine. But who these MLAs are was not clear. The BJP also alleged that the Congress-JD(S) MLAs were `kidnapped, brainwashed, mentally tortured and kept in isolation’.
The Congress put out live pictures of 77 of the 78 MLAs having coffee in Hyderabad. The missing MLA was Anand Singh, a one-time BJP supporter and mining baron who switched sides to the Congress before elections. He is likely to sail with the BJP.
The Congress then hit back releasing an audio tape where controversial mining baron Janardhana Reddy was heard promising an Congress MLA money and `posh life’ if he switched sides. The tape could not be authenticated.
But keeping far away from the noise and din, a dispassionate view is that the BJP does not have the numbers, the Congress-JD(S) combine has. Will Yeddyurappa end up as a 2-day Chief Minister? But in politics, especially in a state like Kar-nataka, anything can happen.