Despite Governor’s directive, voting on trust motion put off once more.
Bengaluru: The JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka Friday thumbed its nose at Governor Vajubhai Valla ignoring his directive twice. And as if to prove that it was in no mood to listen to him, Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar adjourned the House till Monday agreeing to the suggestion by the Congress lawmakers that all the 20 members listed for speaking should get a chance to air their views. Failing this, it would be a denial of fundamental right to freedom of speech.
Before adjourning, the speaker made it clear that finality would be put on the motion on Monday and the matter would not be prolonged further under any circumstances. Congress legislative party leader Siddaramaiah too assured that voting will take place on Monday come what may.
The governor had sent a missive on Thursday asking Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to complete the vote on his trust motion by 1.30 pm Friday. As the deadline passed, the Governor sent another letter stating that under no circumstances should the vote be extended after 6.30 pm.
Stating that he was pained to receive such ‘love letters’ from the Governor, HDK said “I have respect for the Governor. But the second love letter from the Governor has hurt me… I leave the decision on the floor test to you (the Speaker). It won’t be directed by Delhi. I request you to protect me from the letter sent by the Governor.”
Kumaraswamy wondered what the governor was doing when the MLAs were being purchased by the BJP offering Rs 40-50 crore. Soon after making a long speech, HDK went silent and in the evening he was caught napping. Giving him company was his brother and PWD minister HD Revanna.
Kumaraswamy’s bribe charge triggered a massive avalanche of charges from the Congress lawmakers with Srinivas Gowda naming BJP MLAs Ashwath Narayan and Vishwanath who had allegedly gone to his house with Rs 5 crore.
Other MLAs too alleged that BJP was indulging in massive trading of lawmakers with crores as bait.
Promptly the BJP moved a privilege motion against Srinivas Gowda and slapped a defamation suit.
Into this quagmire, the Speaker too was sucked in. There were veiled suggestions that Speaker Ramesh Kumar too was bribed. Kumar flew off the handle saying that he was pained and anguished. For the next 10 minutes, he took the lawmakers to task for trying to drag him into their mess.
“You may have your own apprehensions but let me make it clear… I have led fairly in public life. Character assassination is easy but those commenting on me please look at your background,” he said.
As the drama continued, it was action packed – with money, pelf, horse trading, black magic – even as Kumaraswamy and KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court wanting a clarification on the power of the whip.
The move is clearly aimed at the rebel MLAs. The strategy is that the Kumaraswamy government may sink any time, but it wants to take along the rebel MLAs too by slapping disqualification on them so that they cannot contest elections for the next five years.
The matter is likely to come up before the apex court on Monday. Gundu Rao, in his petition, said the apex court order “whittles down” the power of a political party to issue whip to its MLAs as it has a constitutional right to do so and the court cannot restrict that. The order was passed without involving the Congress legislature party, which presently has 79 MLAs in the Karnataka Assembly. “It is respectfully submitted that as a result of the order dated July 17, the constitutional rights of the applicant under the Tenth Schedule are vitally affected and as such the instant Application is being moved,” it said.
Kumaraswamy too moved the top court seeking clarification of its July 17 order. He also said that the Governor cannot dictate the manner in which the debate on the confidence motion has to be taken up in the Assembly.
The Congress told the Speaker that since the matter of whip is before the apex court, the vote on trust motion need not be taken up.
If it was Congress legislative party leader Siddaramiah who delivered a long speech in the Assembly on Thursday, on Friday it was his colleague Krishna Byre Gowda who questioned the powers of the Governor for over an hour.
Soon after, Congress members raised slogans like “Go back, governor, down down Governor” accusing the BJP of misusing the governor’s office to conspire against the state.
Earlier, Kumaraswamy made an emotional speech in which he said “…from the day I came to power, I know it won’t be for long… how long you (BJP) will sit in power, I am here to see…how stable your government will be with the people who are now helping you,” he said.
He also said he was an accidental chief minister and never indulged in ‘black magic’ to remain in power.
The ruling JD(S)-Congress government remained on edge ever since 16 MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JDS — had resigned, while independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh have withdrawn their support to the coalition government.
The ruling coalition strength is 117— Congress 78, JD(S) 37, BSP 1, and nominated 1, besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, the Opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 225-member House. If the resignations of the 15 MLAs — 12 from Congress and 3 from JD(S) — are accepted, the ruling coalition’s tally will come down to 101 (excluding the Speaker), reducing the 14 month-old Kumaraswamy government to a minority.