Governor tells Speaker to finish voting on trust motion by 1 pm Friday.
Bengaluru: After a day of high drama when coalition partner Congress stalled voting on the trust vote moved by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in the Assembly on Thursday and thus protecting him from ‘falling’, Governor Vajubhai Valla stepped in late night and instructed Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to finish the floor test by 1 pm Friday.
The Congress is likely to use the Governor’s missive to raise fresh objections when the House reconvenes on Friday morning, just as it did today when Vajubhai Valla sent a plain vanilla letter to the Speaker requesting him to complete the process of voting by evening. This request has now been turned into an instruction.
The Chief Minister is likely to write a counter letter asking the Governor for some more time as members should be able to exercise their right to speak.
Legal opinion is divided on whether the Governor has a right to instruct the Speaker who is the presiding officer of the House. But others point out that if the Governor has a doubt on the majority of the present coalition, he can instruct the Speaker, failing which he has the right to suspend the House.
Earlier in the day, the Congress played a pre-determined script in trying to delay the voting process. Just minutes after Kumaraswamy moved the motion of confidence, legislative party leader and Congress leader Siddaramaiah raised a point of order. Instead of coming to the point of order, he went all around in what was clearly a delaying tactics. The Speaker played along by giving Siddaramaiah yawning time while saying it was the Congress leader’s style to take time to make a point.
The Congress leader cleverly converted the point of order into a debate which the rule books say is not allowed.
At the end of heated arguments and some high drama, Siddaramaiah made two crucial points: that he was not a party in the Supreme Court when the matter of curtailing the power of whip was raised. “I am the legislative party leader and I should have been heard,” he said. The apex court had taken his right to issue a whip which is fundamental under the Constitution.
Secondly, he said the matter on the power of issuing a whip should be referred to the Supreme Court as Wednesday’s interim ruling was bad in law and will affect many state governments.
On the first point, legal experts said Siddaramaiah was indeed represented in the apex court as the Chief Minister was party to the case in the Supreme Court. The CM is the leader of the coalition. Moreover, the court had never asked him not to issue a whip. He could, but the rebel MLAs cannot be forced to attend the Assembly.
On the second point, experts said Siddaramaiah could have appealed against the court’s verdict on Wednesday itself or Thursday.
There was bitter war of words between the Congress and the BJP as the coalition government’s tactics of delaying the voting on the trust motion became obvious.
In the dying moments of the House, a livid BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa stormed into the house and announced that the BJP lawmakers would spend the night in the Assembly as a protest. This is what the Congress did in 2010.
There was some photo drama, if not photo finish. The Congress brought blown up photo of their MLA Shrimant Patil who, they said, was abducted by the BJP.
Patil managed to slip out of the resort where the Congress MLAs were housed late last night and landed in Mumbai. He later released a video saying he had gone to Chennai on work and felt pain in his chest. So, he rushed to Mumbai for treatment. He said he will be back when he gets well.
The photo drama derailed the debate on the Governor’s letter to conduct the trust vote by the end of the day.
All through the high-voltage, the man who was to be the centre of the debate – Kumaraswamy – remained a silent spectator even as his assistants brought bunch of files for urgent clearance.
The Congress plan was clear – somehow push the debate till Friday evening so that they can get the weekend to coax the rebel MLAs to return. Sources said Siddaramaiah managed to get in touch with three rebel MLAs even as Ramalinga Reddy withdrew his resignation and attended the House.
But the rebel MLAs released a video from Mumbai saying that they will not follow Reddy’s footsteps and are firm in resigning.
Late in the night, addressing the media, Yeddyurappa alleged that the confidence motion was not even discussed properly for 15 minutes and other issues were brought in by the ruling coalition members to delay the trust vote. “There has been a breach of the constitutional framework,” he said, adding that it was unparalleled. “To protest against this, we will sleep here itself,” Yeddyurappa said. “We will stay until the trust vote is decided,” Yeddyurappa declared.
At the end of the day, the ‘floor test’ became ‘floor rest’ as BJP MLAs spread bedsheets and blankets to stay put in the House for the night.