The political uncertainty in Karnataka continues after the Assembly was adjourned till July 19 morning amid acrimony during the debate on the motion of confidence moved by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to decide the fate of his 14-month-old government.
Meanwhile, BJP leader and former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa declared that his party members would stay put in the House itself overnight and even till the time the trust vote was decided.
Earlier in the day, even as Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy moved the confidence motion, and insisted for a debate, Yeddyurappa appealed to the Speaker to complete the trust vote proceedings in a day.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave 15 dissident MLAs of Karnataka complete freedom to opt out of the ongoing Assembly session even as it acknowledged the Speaker’s discretion to decide on their resignations as and when he considers appropriate.
This is the third motion on trust vote moved in the Assembly after the fractured mandate in the 2018 elections.
Here are the latest updates:
Karnataka Governor asks Kumaraswamy to prove majority by 1.30 p.m.
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala asked Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to prove his majority in the State assembly before 1.30 p.m. on Friday, observing that resingation of 15 ruling combine MLAs and withdrawal of support by two independents “prima facie” indicated he has lost the confidence of the House.
He gave the time-line while taking note of the adjournment of the House till Friday after it took up the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy in the backdrop of rebellion by a section of ruling Congress-JDS.
“Though a message as contemplated under article 175 (2) is sent to the Speaker, I’m informed that the House is adjourned today. Under these circumstances, I request you to prove your majority on the floor of the House on or before 1:30 PM tomorrow (Friday),” Vala has said in a letter to Kumaraswamy.
He said the resignation of 15 Congress and JDS MLAs and two independents withdrawing their support to the government and other circumstances do “prima facie” indicate that Chief Minister has last majority or confidence of the House.
“In my capacity as the head of the State I had not intervened on the matter having regard to the fact that the House was called and Trust vote has been moved. However, it has been reported to me that the proceedings of the House today for vote of confidence has been stalled and consequently adjourned without reaching any finality. This cannot go on in a democratic set up governed by the constitution of India,” the Governor said in his letter, copies of which were made available to media.
Minister in the Kumaraswamy cabinet D.K. Shivakumar confirmed receipt of the Governor’s letter to Chief Minister.
“The Speaker is conducting the House, he will have to give MLAs an opportunity to discuss, at such time from BJP friends are trying to put pressure through the Governor’s office,” he said.
Vala earlier in the day asked Assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to complete the process of vote of confidence moved by the chief minister by the end of the day.
His message to Kumar came after a delegation of opposition BJP leaders called on him and requested him to direct the speaker to conduct the vote of confidence Thursday itself, amid fears by the party that the ruling coalition was trying to prolong the debate and buy time to shore up numbers.
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala asks Kumaraswamy to prove majority on the floor of the Assembly before 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
’Sick’ Karnataka MLA in Mumbai says will return after recovery
Amid the ongoing political drama in Karnataka, yet another Congress MLA from the southern State arrived in Mumbai Thursday and was hospitalised after complaining of chest pain.
Shreemant Patil, legislator from Kagwad Assembly segment in Belgaum district, said he would return after his health recovers.
“I will return to Bengaluru once I recover,” Patil said, speaking after being transferred from a private hospital where he was admitted first, to a public hospital in south Mumbai.
“I went to Chennai for some personal work and felt chest pain, so I visited a hospital and on medical advice, I came to Mumbai and got myself admitted here,” he said.
Patil’s disappearing act from Karnataka and his sudden appearance in Mumbai came on a day the Assembly there was rocked by trading of charges after the Congress alleged that Patil, who suddenly disappeared after being with them at a resort and went incommunicado, had been ‘kidnapped’ as part of efforts to ‘topple’ the coalition government.
House adjourned till July 19 morning
The House has been adjourned to tomorrow 11 a.m. by Deputy Speaker Krishna Reddy as the Congress members persistently shouted slogans against the BJP as the proceedings wore on with Kumaraswamy yet to make his speech on the motion.
Before the House was adjourned, BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa declared that his party members would stay put in the House itself overnight and even till the time the trust vote was decided.
“We will stay until the trust vote is decided,” Yeddyurappa declared.
This is not the first time Yeddyurappa wll be doing dharna in the Assembly. In 2013, he had staged a protest in the Legislative Assembly sitting in Belagavi (then Belgaum) demanding extension of Shaadi Bhagya scheme to all.
Previously, in 2015, a similar situation rose in Madhya Pradesh Assembly after the Congress MLAs, who were in the Opposition, refused to leave the premises after the House was adjourned.
Later in 2016, a similar situation rose in Punjab Assembly as well.
War of words continue between the members over the missing MLA.
Congress members move to the well of the House raising slogans "down down BJP" holding photographs of MLA Shreemanth Patil.
In the meantime, Ramalinga Reddy, who was one of the dissent MLA, is present in the House, seated along with fellow Congress member. Mr. Reddy on Wednesday said he would remain in the party.
Leader of Opposition B.S. Yeddyurappa appeals to the Speaker to complete the motion of confidence and put to vote by the end of the day. Even if it's by midnight, we are ready, he says.
Krishna Byre Gowda says he fails to understand how the BJP's demand from morning and the Governor's message are the same. His words trigger opposition in the House.
Tanveer Sait of Congress alleges that the Opposition has shown disrespect to the Chair of the Speaker.
Speaker says he has received a message from the Governor and he wishes to place it before the House.
"The motion of confidence moved by the Chief Minister is under consideration today. The Chief Minister must enjoy confidence of the House at all times. Hence I wish the vote of confidence be completed by the end of the day and this will be in the good tradition of democracy," reads the Governor's message.
Revenue Minister R.V. Deshpande takes objection to the message from the Governor. He can send such a message in connection with a Bill but not on trust vote. There are questions on whether this is constitutionally valid, he says.
Speaker clarifies that the Governor has not directed but only conveyed that he desired the trust vote be completed by the end of the day.
Senior minister Krishna Byre Gowda also takes objection to the Govenor's message arguing that it infringes on the rights of the members of the House to express their opinions in the on such an important matter. "If I am not allowed to speak, there's a question as to why should I continue as a member of the house," he says.
Speaker is holding consultations with Advocate General at his chamber on the issue of whip and the confusion that surrounds it.
In the meanwhile BJP MLC N. Ravi Kumar alleges that the Speaker is allowing diversionary tactics to delay the trust vote.
"The party has sought the Governor's intervention to ensure that there trust vote is carried out without any impediments," he says.
BJP leaders Jagdish Shettar, Arvind Limbavali, Basavaraj Bommai, S R Vishwanath and Mr. Ravikumar called on Governor Vajubhai Vala.
"There should be a debate on the trust vote and it should be concluded today. The Speaker has not paid heed to our demand and allowed an extended debate on Point of Order," Jagdish Shettar says.
"We fear that a minority government has been allowed to continue with these tactics. We have made this submission to the Governor and sought his intervention," says Mr. Shetter who has also held the post of a Speaker in the past.
House adjourned for half an hour amidst pandemonium over discussion over Mr. Shrimath Patil's absence.
Speaker asks Home Minister to probe the matter
Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar says he cannot probe into who went with whom in a flight.
"CLP leader Siddaramaiah has written a letter alleging the MLA was kidnapped. That becomes a criminal offence, which I cannot act on," he says.
Meanwhile, the Speaker's office has received a letter in which Mr. Shreemanth Patil has said he is admitted to a hospital complaining of chest pain and he cannot attend the entire session.
He also tagged a report from Sanjeevani Hospital which referred him to another hospital for monitoring in the ICU.
"Both these hospitals are in Mumbai. The letter is not even on his letterhead. I don't even know if this hospital exists. How can I accept this as a genuine letter?"
Speaker Ramesh Kumar directs Home Minister M.B. Patil to probe the matter. "Enquire with the family members immediately, whether this is the first time he complained of chest pain. Why did he go to Mumbai for treatment?"
"I will have to call the DG&IGP of the state if the government doesn't behave properly," he cautions and asks the Home Minister to file a report by Friday morning.
Where is Shreemanth Patil?
Dinesh Gundu Rao says Shreemanth Patil was healthy and was together with all Congress MLAs till Wednesday late night.
"Yesterday night we received a message that he was missing from the resort where we were put up. Later we realised the BJP had played a role in this. He was healthy and today we see he's ill.
"He went to Chennai overnight and from there went to Mumbai in a special flight today morning. Why would a man who is ill would travel all night and then go to Mumbai to receive treatment?
"Maharashtra police are protecting the hospital. This clearly shows BJP has a direct role in this. We write to you requesting you to institute an investigation into the whole affair. This is a conspiracy to get the MLA abstain from the session.
"We request you to get the State Home Ministry to probe the matter and ensure the MLA comes back," he says.
It may be noted that Mr. Patil was not present in the forenoon session as well.
Shreemanth Patil kidnapped, claims Congress
Minister D.K. Shivakumar submits to the Speaker that BJP has taken away Congress MLA Shreemanth Patil to Mumbai, got him admitted to a hospital against his will, even though he was healthy.
He submits copies of documents of the flight, which shows Mr. Shreemanth Patil left to Mumbai with BJP leader Lakshman Savadi. He alleges the Congress MLA was kidnapped and his family members had complained to the party seeking protection.
Karnataka Legislative Assembly resumes after lunch break.
Coming out of the Assembly, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president and party MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao says the Supreme Court has created a constitutional crisis by infringing on the legislature.
"The Supreme Court in its interim order has said the 15 MLAs cannot be compelled. This is the crisis. Let the Supreme Court decide on it in its final order. Till such time we appeal the speaker to adjourn the confidence vote," he says.
Speaker adjourns the House
Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar adjourned the house till 3 pm for lunch and said he would consult the Advocate General of the state in the meantime over the issue.
Confidence motion must be deferred: Siddaramaiah
CLP leader Siddaramaiah who raised a point of order over the Tenth schedule of the Constitution, appeals to the Speaker to defer the confidence motion and taken up after the speaker decides on the legality of the whip.
"Given the Supreme Court's interim order, I have two options. One approach the Supreme Court and two, raise a point of order in the house, which I have done. The autonomy of the legislature has to be protected. The 15 MLAs are likely to be influenced by the Supreme Court order and not attend the session despite a whip from the party. This will be unfair to the government. We want the house to take up the confidence motion after this issue is settled," he said.
Guide me, says Speaker
Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar says while he [the assembly speaker] is a respondent before the Supreme Court, the Congress Legislative Party leader is not a party to it. "Now the Supreme court has given an interim order which states the members ought not to be compelled to attend the house. Who should implement the order?", he asks.
While issuing a whip is the prerogative of the CLP leader, he isn't party to it. "I request the house to guide me. I am worried", he says.
Confidence vote before Speaker's decision on MLAs' status is incomplete: Minister
Congress Minister Krishna Byre Gowda, raising a Point of Order, says the confidence motion, if put to vote before the Speaker's decision on the resignation of the rebel MLAs would be incomplete. "In such a scenario, the decision of this House would be questionable," Mr. Gowda says.
However, BJP MLA JC Madhuswamy says it is not a Point of Order.
BJP MLA and former Minister Suresh Kumar says that it is a "pre-planned Point of Order" aimed at distracting the House.
BJP senior leader and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar also calls it "diversion" from the main agenda and asks Speaker to disallow it.
'Don't proceed without clarity, Patil urges Speaker
Congress leader and former Minister HK Patil says that this infringement of right can set a dangerous precedent that will impact all political parties. Mr. Patil Pleads with the Speaker to not proceed before ruling on this issue.
You can act as per your rights under 10th Schedule: Speaker
Saying that he is not commenting on the interim order of the Supreme Court, Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar says, "You can either implead before the SC or not, it's left you. You are at liberty to act as per your rights under Tenth Schedule".
"The house will in no way infringe on your rights", the Speaker says.
SC order indirectly curtailing my right, says Siddaramaiah
The Supreme Court order has nowhere in their order discussed about whip issued by the political parties, Mr. Siddaramaiah says. The apex court had only said that 15 members of the assembly ought not to be compelled to take part in the ongoing session. "It is indirectly curtailing my right under Tenth Schedule of the constitution, when we are not even party to the petition", he says.
"It is not us but BJP who is compelling the rebel MLAs not to participate in the session. They are ferrying these rebel MLAs in special flights", Mr. Siddaramaiah alleged.
'Concerned over my right to issue whip'
Mr. Siddaramaiah says as a leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), he was now concerned of his right of issuing whip to his MLAs in light of an observation made by Supreme Court.
He or his party, the Congress or was not a party to the petition in Supreme Court, he says.
Commotion in House
Commotion in the House as the Opposition BJP objects to point of order raised by Mr. Siddaramaiah
'Defection a big blow to foundations of Constitution'
Congress Legislative Party leader and former CM Siddaramaiah rises to speak. He raises a point of order in the Assembly. "Defection is a big blow to the foundations of the constitution and a menace that corrupts politics, the spirit behind anti defection law", Mr. Siddaramaiah says.
Opposition BJP objects to this.
The 'farce of democracy' must be debated: HDK
"This government continuing in power under my leadership or not is not important. What is happening across the country to state governments, playing out as a farce of democracy must be debated here today", says Chief Minsiter H.D. Kumaraswamy countering Mr. Yeddyurappa's plea.
Don't stretch the debate beyond a day, appeals Yeddyurappa
Leader of opposition B.S. Yeddyurappa recalled earlier occasions of trust votes completed in one day and appealed the speaker to complete the proceedings in a day. He asked the speaker to allot time to speakers from either sides proportional to their numerical strength. Assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar said Rule 164 did not apply to a situation like this and asked the house to participate in the proceedings responsibly.
"They have created a lot of doubts in the minds of the people, not just about the coalition government but about the chair of the speaker as well. They have tried to create doubts about the chair as well," says Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
"Rebel MLAs have made several allegations against the government before the Supreme Court. We cannot live with such allegations and need to clarify. Trust vote can't be put to vote without debate. Restricting time of debate, under such circumstances, would be inappropriate in my view", Mr. Kumarswamy said.
HDK moves motion
Speaker K.R Ramesh Kumar begins the session. Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy moves trust vote in the Assembly.
Rebel Congress MLAs stick to their stand
Three rebel Congress MLAs — S.T. Somashekhar, Byrathi Basavaraju and Munirathna — have released a video message this morning, reiterating their stand that they would not withdraw their resignations. The video message comes in the light of senior Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy announcing he would withdraw his resignation and support Congress triggering speculations that the three city MLAs would also follow suit. The three MLAs had earlier called Mr. Reddy their "leader".
"Before resigning, we three MLAs met Ramalinga Reddy and all four of us submitted our resignation letters and agreed that we will not withdraw our resignations at any cost. But we have now seen in the media that he has taken a U turn on the day of trust vote. He has suddenly announced he will withdraw his resignation and support Congress in the trust vote. None of us are going to follow Ramalinga Reddy and we are firm in our decision on the resignation and won't participate in the assembly session," said S.T. Somashekhar in the video flanked by Munirathna and Byrathi Basavaraju.
BJP legislators arrive at the Vidhana Soudha. They came in about two buses directly from a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru. A smiling B S Yeddyurappa flashed the victory symbol with both his hands as he entered the Vidhana Soudha. Speaking to media persons, he said they were confident of proving their majority in the house. "We are 101% sure that the coalition will suffer a setback. They are less than 100 while we are 105," he said.
Ramalinga Reddy, a former Minister and seven-time MLA, who also submitted his resignation, seems to be tilting towards the coalition and has maintained that he is with the Congress. With his inclusion, the coalition will still have just 101 votes, including the Speaker’s. The vote of N. Mahesh, BSP MLA, who had a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S), is uncertain.
The Hindu Editorial on SC ruling
The free run given by the Supreme Court to the dissident legislators means they can defy a party whip without the fear of disqualification for defection under clause 2 (b) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. Clause 2 (b) of the Tenth Schedule mandates that a legislator is liable for defection if he or she “votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by the political party to which he belongs or by any person or authority authorised by it in this behalf...”
On the other hand, the court said it should not shackle the Speaker’s authority. He should be allowed to arrive at a decision on the resignations at an “appropriate time”.
(With inputs from our Karnataka Bureau)