Bengaluru | The fate of the fragile Congress-JDS government in Karnataka is likely to be decided on the floor of the assembly Monday even as the rebel MLAs Sunday bluntly refused to compromise on their stand and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy made an appeal to them to attend the House in an effort to save his 14-month old ministry.
Two days of efforts to woo back the rebel MLAs after the government defied on July 19 two deadlines set by Governor Vajubhai Vala to prove majority appeared to have fallen flat as the 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 the coalition has done no good to the people and compelled the MLAs to resign.”
Amid reports that the government was still trying to prolong the discussion on the confidence motion moved by the Chief Minister on Thursday, hoping for some kind of relief from the Supreme Court, senior minister and Congress troubleshooter D K Shivakumar claimed Kumaraswamy has told the Congress that it can appoint any one of its choice as Karnataka CM to save the coalition.
There was however no confirmation from the JDS 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 JDS 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 its “immoral politics” in Karnataka.
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 a statement.
Asserting that he did not wish to cling to power, Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy said his only intention for seeking time for the debate on trust vote was to let the entire country know how the BJP was trying to “subvert” the democratic principles and the Constitution.
Amidst all these developments, which are a result of a sole ambition to capture power through immoral and illegal ways, the BJP has been demanding I must resign immediately and has even got the Raj Bhavan to set deadlines for putting the confidence motion into the vote, the chief minister said.
He made a fervent appeal to the disgruntled MLAs to return and ‘expose’ the BJP.
I would like to appeal to such MLAs who have gone away from us to please attend the legislative session and narrate how the BJP took them away forcefully,” he said.
The JDS leader also assured he would do every bit to solve their problems as he insisted there was a need to save the democratically elected government from the evil forces which are trying to shake the very foundation of democracy by misusing their political influence.”
Meanwhile, the coalition received a minor 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 JDS and Congress came together to satiate the greed for power after fighting elections against each other.
The assembly was adjourned till Monday after the Governor’s 1.30 PM deadline and the second one to conclude the confidence motion process by Friday itself was ignored, prolonging the climax to the ceaseless power struggle that has been on for the last three weeks.
As the situation threatens to blow into a Constitutional crisis, the ruling coalition has vociferously questioned the Governor’s power to issue such directions.
However, before adjourning the House on Friday, Speaker Ramesh Kumar extracted a “commitment” from the coalition that the motion of confidence would reach finality on Monday, even as he made it clear that it would not be prolonged further under any circumstances.
With treasury benches insisting that the Speaker allow its long list of speakers to voice their feelings, questions are still being raised in political circles over whether voting on the motion will happen Monday also.
If the ruling coalition tries to delay the proceedings on Monday also, all eyes will be on the next move by the Governor, who has been keeping the Centre posted on the unfolding drama in the state.
The “delay” in completing the trust vote process was seen as an attempt by the ruling coalition aimed at buying time to woo back rebel MLAs, sequestered in Mumbai to protect them from poaching by the ruling coalition, whose resignation has pushed the government to the brink of collapse.
Yeddyurappa exuded confidence Monday would be the last day of the Kumaraswamy led coalition government.
“As Siddaramaiah, Speaker and Kumaraswamy have said that they will seek majority on Monday, I am 100 per cent confident that things will reach a conclusion. I am confident that tomorrow is the last day of the Kumaraswamy government,” Yeddyurappa told reporters here.
Meanwhile, BJP has left no stone unturned to keep its flock together ahead of the trust vote by herding its MLAs to a resort and has decided to wait and watch till Monday about the coalition and the Speaker’s commitment to complete the trust vote.
If the floor test is further delayed, it will worsen the political logjam, compelling BJP to approach the Governor and even move the apex Court for intervention, party sources said.
On the CM failing to prove majority on the floor of the House. House during the trust vote on Monday, Kumaraswamy will have to tender the resignation, following which the procedure to form an alternative government will be kickstarted.
Yeddyurappa has already claimed that the Congress-JD(S) coalition had just 98 legislators and it has lost majority, while the BJP led by him, with 106 MLAs, was in a comfortable position to form an alternative government.
As many as 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, pushing the government to the precipice.
One Congress member Ramalinga Reddy retracted, saying he would support the government.
The ruling combine’s 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, including the nominated MLA and Speaker.
If the resignations of 15 MLAs (12 from Congress and three from JDS) are accepted or if they stay away, the ruling coalition’s tally will plummet to 101, (excluding the Speaker) reducing the government to a minority.
The coalition strength would fall further to 98 as claimed by Yeddyurappa, as two Congress MLAs are unlikely to attend due to health reasons.
BJPs 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, fearing poaching by Congress as Speaker has not accepted his request for his seating arrangement along with the opposition.