Karnataka Assembly Speaker reserves order; crucial confidence vote today

Karnataka, in the midst of a surcharged political atmosphere, awaits the outcome of the crucial confidence vote on the floor of the Legislative Assembly on Monday. While Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa exudes confidence that his government will have the majority vote in its favour, the Opposition parties are certain that the BJP government will fall.

In the meantime, Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has written to Speaker K.G. Bopaiah to retain the existing configuration of the Assembly in terms of the members of each party represented in the House. “In the interest of a free and fair floor test, it is required that no attempt should be made to change the character/configuration of the House after the House has been summoned for the very purpose of a floor test. Any attempt to change the configuration is bound to vitiate the proceedings. Any result obtained by such vitiated proceedings will not be acceptable,” he said.

However, Mr. Bopaiah, who had served notice on 13 BJP legislators, asking them to explain why action should not be initiated against them under the anti-defection law, began hearings in his chambers on the submissions made by the legislators. At the conclusion of the hearings, the Speaker reserved his order.

The legislators, who are in Chennai, were represented by their lawyers.

In his reply to the Governor, Mr. Bopaiah urged him to maintain impartiality in disputes between rival parties and uphold the high traditions of the office of the Governor. The Governor's letter was tantamount to serious interference with the discharge of the functions of the Speaker, he said.

Kumaraswamy's charge

B. Kolappan reports from Chennai:

Mr. Kumaraswamy on Sunday accused Mr. Bopaiah of misusing his office and adopting illegal methods against the dissident BJP MLAs and Independents and asserted that the Yeddyurappa government would be defeated in the trust vote even if these MLAs were disqualified.

“We have full confidence that this time the Yeddyurappa Cabinet cannot win by money power or by misusing the government machinery. The MLAs will teach a lesson to them …,” Mr. Kumaraswamy, who is camping at a hotel in Chennai with the dissident MLAs, told journalists.

Asked whether the dissidents would vote against the government or abstain from voting, he said everything would depend on how the Speaker behaved. Mr. Kumaraswamy presented the dissident MLAs before journalists.

On the Congress stand, he said the party would take its own decision. “Naturally, the Congress will not support the BJP government.”