Karnataka Crisis: Trust vote by 6 pm today

PTI

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy speaks during the Assembly session at Vidhana Soudha, in Bengaluru, Monday, July 22, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy speaks during the Assembly session at Vidhana Soudha, in Bengaluru, Monday, July 22, 2019. (PTI Photo)

In an unending battle of nerves, the Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar stated that the discussion would end by 4 PM on Tuesday and by 6 PM, the voting process would be completed.

As the House debated the motion with frequent scenes of pandemonium, Congress made its intentions clear right from the beginning that voting be deferred as the apex Court was seized of pleas by two Independent MLAs on the issue of the trust vote.

The Supreme Court will hear today a fresh plea of two Independent Karnataka MLAs, seeking holding of the floor test “forthwith” in the state Assembly on the trust motion.

The MLAs who withdrew support to the ruling coalition have sought a direction to the Kumaraswamy government to conduct the floor test on or before 5 PM on Monday.

Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar adjourned the House at 11.45 PM after repeatedly reminding the government it should honour its commitment to conclude the trust vote proceedings by Monday itself.

Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara were not present towards the end of proceedings, when Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah told the Speaker, “100 per cent.. voting can happen tomorrow.”

Serving a warning to the rebel MLAs, sequestered in a Mumbai hotel, senior minister D K Shivakumar reminded them that they would face disqualification if they did not turn up before the speaker on Tuesday in response to his notice.

Twenty MLAs, including 17 from the ruling coalition, skipped the proceedings Monday, besides two Independents and BSP member N Mahesh, who is supporting the government.

Maintaining composure throughout, BJP members made repeated pleas to the Speaker to conclude the process Monday itself without dragging it any further.

The assembly was adjourned for nearly two hours as Congress and JDS members demanded more time to discuss the confidence motion after the Speaker asked them to wind up quickly so that the trust vote process could be completed.

Senior Congress leader H K Patil insisted that the trust vote process should be completed after the Supreme Court decision and asserted “This is not a full House,” with rebel MLAs confined in Mumbai and not able to attend the session.

Intervening, Kumaraswamy said the two Independent MLAs had approached the Supreme Court on the trust vote issue. “If they had faith in you, why did they approach the Supreme Court?” he asked the speaker.

“We had agreed to conclude the trust vote process on Monday, but in the light of developments in the Supreme Court and with several MLAs wanting to speak, give us more time,” Kumaraswamy told the Speaker.

Kumaraswamy also said that a fake letter with his forged signature that he had resigned was being circulated.

“Similar rumours about me also,” said the Speaker.

As the House met after an hour’s delay in the morning, the Speaker made it clear, “Everybody is watching us. Please don’t make me a scapegoat. Let us reach our goal,” stressing that the process should reach finality by Monday.

As many as 16 MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JDS– had resigned, while independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh withdrew their support to the coalition government, pushing the government to the precipice.

One Congress member Ramalinga Reddy retracted from his decision to resign, 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, 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, reducing the government to a minority.

(PTI)