Bengaluru/Karnataka: With the fate of the fragile Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka likely to be decided on Monday with a trust vote in the Assembly, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has appealed the rebel MLAs to return and “expose” the BJP during the debate in the House, but they ruled out attending the session.
Karnataka BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa on Sunday exuded confidence that “tomorrow will be the last day of the Kumaraswamy government” and said the chief minister was just trying to buy time.
After the voting on confidence motion did not take place despite two deadlines on July 19 set by Governor Vajubhai Vala, two Independent MLAs, who withdrew support to the Congress-JD(S) government, had moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction for conducting a floor test forthwith in the state Assembly.
However, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to urgently list the plea. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “Impossible. We have never done this before. Tomorrow we may see to it.”
The bench’s remarks came when senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the two legislators — R Shankar and H Nagesh, said he has filed a new petition in the Karnataka matter and seeks its urgent listing.
Rohatgi said the floor test is being delayed on one pretext or the other.
He said when the Congress-JD(S) coalition can take orders for holding of floor test earlier, then same order can be issued now. To this the bench said, “We will see tomorrow.”
The two MLAs, who withdrew support to the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka, moved the top court seeking a direction for conducting a floor test forthwith in the state Assembly.
They said that the state has plunged into a political crisis after they withdrew their support to the government and 16 lawmakers of the ruling coalition tendered their resignations.
Amid reports that the government was still trying to prolong the discussion on the confidence motion to delay the floor test in a hope of some kind of relief from the Supreme Court, Kumaraswamy on Sunday said he was not trying to cling onto power.
“My only intention of seeking time for debate on trust vote is to let the entire country know how the BJP, which talks of morality, is trying to subvert the very principles of democracy as well as Constitution,” he said in a statement, and offered to hold talks with rebels MLAs to resolve their issues.
But the rebel lawmakers hunkered down in a Mumbai hotel asserted they would not return and rejected allegations they were held captive.
“We thought this government will do good to the state but it did not happen. There is no question of our attending the assembly session tomorrow,” rebel JD(S) MLA K Gopalaiah said in a video, flanked by ten other legislators.
A H Vishwanath, who resigned as the JD(S) state president following the Lok Sabha election debacle, said “the demonic politics in the name of coalition has done no good to the people and compelled the MLAs to resign.”
Senior minister and Congress trouble shooter D K Shivakumar claimed Kumaraswamy has told the Congress that it can appoint any leader of its choice as CM to save the coalition.
There was, however, no confirmation from the JD(S) that it has made such a proposal though there were reports earlier that such a suggestion by Kumaraswamy was shot down by his father and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda.
Kumaraswamy and the Congress had moved the Supreme Court on Friday, accusing the Governor of interfering with the Assembly proceedings when the debate on the trust vote was underway and sought clarification on its July 17 order, which they said,caused hindrance in issuing whip to the legislators.
Kumaraswamy on Sunday mounted a scathing attack on BJP, accusing it of touching a new low by by its “immoral politics”.
“It is a matter of immense pain and disgust that the BJP has not only taken Karnataka’s political scenario to a new low, but also touched a new low in the country for immoral politics. The BJP has made a mockery of democracy by taking away several MLAs from ruling coalition forcefully,” he said in the statement.
Meanwhile, the coalition got some relief when Bahujan Samajwadi Party supremo Mayawati directed her party’s lone MLA in Karnataka N Mahesh to vote in favour of the trust motion.
BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa hit back at Kumaraswamy questioning where was his morality when the JD(S) and Congress came together to satiate the greed for power after fighting elections against each other.
As many as 16 MLAs – 13 from the Congress and three from JD(S) – had resigned, while independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh had withdrawn their support to the coalition government.
One Congress member Ramalinga Reddy had later retracted his resignation, saying he would support the government.
The ruling combines 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 15 MLAs (12 from Congress and three from JD(S)) are accepted or if they stay away, the ruling coalitions tally will plummet to 101, (excluding the Speaker) reducing the government to a minority.
BJP’s strength is also likely to come down to 106, as Shankar who has extended support to the saffron party will not attend the session, according to sources.
(With inputs from PTI&IANS)