The fate of the JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka once again hung in the balance, as the government failed to bring the trust vote motion to the House yet again.
After adjournments, back-and-forths between Speaker Ramesh Kumar, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah and Opposition B.S. Yeddyurappa, and general chaos in the Assembly, the Speaker adjourned the House after setting a deadline of 6 p.m. on Tuesday for the trust vote.
Here are the updates as they happened:
Speaker Ramesh Kumar turns angry, asks the government to specify what its plans on motion of confidence are and its final deadline.
Minister R. V. Deshpande assures the Speaker that the voting will be complete tomorrow.
Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah feels it is better to adjourn till tomorrow and promises voting tomorrow too.
However, the Speaker wants him to specify the time when voting will be taken up
Mr. Siddaramaiah replies that the entire process would be completed by 8 pm tomorrow.
Speaker sets a deadline of 4 pm.
Mr. Siddaramaiah requests a deadline of 6 pm deadline.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar agrees and adjourns the House.
Senior Congress leader R. V. Deshpande finally appeals to leader of Opposition B.S. Yeddyurappa to agree for adjourning the House for the day. The Speaker, however, says his only concern is to keep his word that he would complete the process of motion of confidence today.
Congress leader and Zameer Ahmed Khan loses cool and urges Speaker to put an end to uncertainty by taking a final call on the episode of motion of confidence
The Speaker seeks BJP's view on suggestion to adjourn the House. But Mr. Yeddyurappa rejects such a suggestion and insists on putting the motion to vote today.
Speaker says he is in a difficult situation and asks the members to continue the debate.
Minister Priyanka Kharge appeals that Speaker not be rigid. Maintaining that it is a testing time for the Assembly, he requests the Speaker to adjourn the House to make way for proper discussion tomorrow.
JDS MLA Shivalinge Gowda says the Speaker should give time for rebels to return from Mumbai after he ruled that the whips apply to them. Remarking that poaching the MLAs from rival camps was a sin, Mr. Gowda says the BJP will pay the price for it.
The Assembly session is still on and the ruling party members have resorted to protest seeking adjournment. Congress member Srinivas Gowda leaves the House saying he is diabetic and that he needs to have dinner.
Minister for Urban Development U.T. Khader says nobody is ready for voting now at this late hour and suggests putting off the House till tomorrow.
Congress MLA says floor test sub judice, BJP MLA requests intervention by constitutional authority
Senior Congress MLA H.K. Patil said two developments have taken place after Friday's assurance, changing the situation. "You have given a ruling on the point of order raised by CLP leader Siddaramaiah on the question of whip. Moreover Supreme Court has said the cases will be taken up for hearing tomorrow. The petition by two independent MLAs prayed that the floor test must be held today by 5 p.m. But the Supreme Court has refused to hear the petition immediately but said they will hear it tomorrow. Now, the floor test seems to have become sub judice. We need to wait for what SC says tomorrow," he argued.
"SC had in its earlier order, by saying, these rebel MLAs ought not to be compelled to attend the session. There is a debate that this effectively suspends the tenth schedule of the Constitution. But your ruling that has upheld the party's right to issue a whip has changed the situation. This is not a full house. There are so many members absent from this house. Now the whip has acquired potency after your ruling today. It's communicated today and they must be given a chance. Or else the ruling will go futile," he argued.
BJP MLA JC Madhuswamy says: The question before us is only whether the CM enjoys the confidence of the House or not. Nothing else matters. Supreme court has respected the Speaker's chair and not interfered in your functioning. I request you that the Assembly needs to show similar respect for the SC and Governor. We are not for some other body to interfere in the House. But today the situation demands such an intervention by a constitutional authority.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar, responding to the argument of the changed situation made by Mr. Patil, said he wouldn't agree that this isn't a full House.
"The House can convene if there's a corum of 24 members. It is the choice of those MLAs to come or not. They may not come tomorrow as well. House cannot wait for them. SC has increased my responsibility by reposing faith in me. Let the SC decide tomorrow. But the CM and CLP leader assured the House that it would be put to vote by Monday. I'm not saying I will put an end to debate. Let the debate take place, I will co-operate," he said.
CM Kumaraswamy says the media has been reporting that he has already resigned and they are showing a fake letter. "My signature has been forged. This shows the desperation," he says. He says he is ready for the debate.
House reconvenes after long delay
After a delay of nearly two hours, the House reconvenes. Leader of opposition BS Yeddyurappa appeals to the Speaker to put the motion to vote today even if it's past midnight. We are ready to sit, he said. Speaker Ramesh Kumar says even he's ready for it.
However, Congress and JD(S) leaders fo to the well of the House demanding the House be adjourned to tomorrow. They shout "Save Constitution", "We want justice", arguing that the trust vote will have to wait till the Supreme Court hearing on the case tomorrow.
Mr. Kumaraswamy asks members of the treasury benches to take their seats and let the leader of Opposition speak.
Mr. Yeddyurappa continues.
He says to the Speaker: you had assured us that the motion would be put to vote on Monday. This evening, you told our chief whip that it would be put to vote today even if it's midnight. I appeal you to conduct the floor test today itself.
Karnataka CM, deputy and others meet Speaker
All the ruling coalition leaders - including CM Kumaraswamy, Deputy CM Parameshwara and CLP leader Siddaramaiah -- have been holding talks with Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar for the last half an hour. The House is yet to be convened after the adjournment nearly two hours ago.
Ruling party leaders have started a protest in the well of the House. There is an uproar in the House with ruling party MLAs demanding that they all be given time to speak before the motion is trust to vote. The BJP wants it done instantly and the process completed today. The entire Opposition stayed completely silent through it all, with BJP state president B.S. Yeddyurappa keeping mum.
The House has been adjourned for 10 minutes.
Home Minister's reply irks Speaker
Responding to questions raised by JD(S) member A.T. Ramaswamy on zero traffic facility provided to rebel MLAs, Home Minister M.B. Patil says the Governor had written to the State government directing them to provide security to the rebel MLAs.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar takes objection and says zero traffic and protection has to be separated, to which Mr. Patil says the rebel MLAs were not given zero traffic facility from HAL airport to Vidhana Soudha.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar takes serious objection to this and asks the Home Minister if he is really satisfied with his answer.
"The entire country knows that the rebel MLAs were given zero traffic," he says. "Zero traffic is given to only a select few those who hold constitutional posts. The rationale for providing this facility is that these persons will be attending to matters of national importance. What is the great national service that these MLAs were upto? This is not about any party or MLAs but a matter of principle and the system," he says.
The Home Minister's reply draws objections from the Treasury Benches itself.
Mr. Ramaswamy, who raised the issue, says it was condemnable how the Home Minister gave such a reply contrary to facts and that went in the records. "If this is the kind of response one gets from a Minister, why should I stay in this House? I will leave," he says. The Speaker pacifies him.
Senior Congress leader H.K. Patil intervenes and asks the Speaker to direct the Home Minister to come back to the House after seeking a clarification from the officials. Speaker directs the Home Minister to do so.
The debate on trust vote is paused again. This time members cheer. The Speaker informs the House about the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2, India's moon mission that is expected to make a soft launch at the earth's natural satellite's south pole.
Karnataka Assembly adopts a resolution congratulating ISRO and the scientists team for the successful launch of Chandrayaan II.
Senior BJP leader Aravind Limbavali, who has filed a case regarding the release of a morphed video that shows him in a compromising position, gets emotional as he speaks of the misinformation campaign against him. He demands an inquiry into it.
Recalling the old guard of Janata Dal (the erstwhile party from where JD(S) was formed as a breakaway), many of whom are now in the BJP, Mr. Ramaswamy says there is now a need for all of them to introspect on where the political culture of the State is headed to.
How were the rebel MLAs allowed to go to the airport in zero traffic to travel to Mumbai? Where is such a provision? Has administration collapsed in the State? Who gave such a direction?
"We are being accused of delaying the trust vote. That may be partially true. But how to do you describe the two letters that were sent to the chief minister on trust vote by the Governor of Karnataka? Isn't that a political tactic too? We are politicians and can be pardoned for indulging in political tactics, but can a Constitutional authority do the same?" he asks.
He ends the speech by quoting a lesson from Mahabharata.
Mr. Ramaswamy now targets the BJP. "Why did you abdicate your responsibility as an Opposition by constantly trying to pull down the government?" he asks.
Every effort is being made by the BJP to undermine the anti-defection law to come to power. If such a efforts are not stopped, Constitution is in serious peril. Mr. Ramaswamy warns.
This House has to send a message to the country and take bold decision to safeguard the Constitution, he adds.
House reassembles. JD(S) MLA A.T. Ramaswamy is the next speaker.
The MLAs have been chosen by the people based on the manifesto of our parties. Therefore until the end of the term of this Assembly, they are morally bound to be members of this party. To shift midway to betray the voters, he argues.
The rebel MLAs claim to be have resigned voluntarily and without being enticed by anyone. Can you then promise not to contest any election until the entire term of the Assembly is over? he asks. "If they do so, I will ask the chief minister to resign," he says.
Why did they have to flee the state if their decision was voluntary and not without any other interest? Even I don't always agree with the decisions taken by my party. But that does not mean you defect without any moral responsibility, he says. If the rebel MLAs had any self respect they would not allowed themselves to be herded to Mumbai.
Umesh Jadhav, when he resigned as an MLA gave it in writing that he is no way linked to BJP, and the very next day he joined the BJP. "This is deceiving the Speaker," Mr. Byregowda says.
BJP Basavaraj Bommai argues that the undertaking only pertains to the day the resignation was given and once his resignation was accepted, the member was free to join any party.
"This is the pattern of how Operation Kamala is done," Mr. Byregowda says. He argues that the rebel MLAs have already effectively defected to BJP.
The constitution only says a member is either a member or not a member of the House. But now there is a third dimension where the Supreme Court has given them protection till the Speaker decides on their resignations.
"So I request the Speaker to decide on their resignations which will bring it back to two dimensions - either they are members or not. Pending this decision, I feel the confidence vote will have no constitutional validity. I will participate if you hold this vote, but I personally feel it will not be constitutionally valid," he adds.
With that he ends his speech. House is adjourned till 3.30 pm for lunch.
Media has reported that a special flight that flew all rebel MLAs belongs to the firm owned by a BJP Rajya Sabha MP. This flight is making two-three trips everyday, says Mr. Byregowda. BJP MLA Arvind Limbavali objects to this saying it's a flight that can be hired.
"Maharashtra BJP leaders have been meeting rebels, BJP MLA Ashwath Narayan has met rebels. How do they say this is not operation kamala?" Mr. Byregowda argues.
The people of the State and the media seem to have forgotten the history of the State. But have the MLAs who switched sides as part of operation Kamala in 2008-09 forgotten the history, he says.
V. Somanna, one of the MLAs who switched sides to join BJP in 2008, objects to this reference saying it is his right to do so.
Mr. Somanna, who got elected in the Congress ticket in 2008 switched to BJP and quit his MLA post. In the subsequent by-election the next year, he lost to a debutant Priya Krishna.
BJP behind rebel MLAs: Byregowda
Krishna Byregowda continues to speak. He refers to another audio where an MLA is speaking to the son of another MLA where he claims the High Court, the Supreme Court and even the Speaker have been managed and they were ready to pay ₹10 crore.
The particular audio was released by chief minister in February 2019 and had the voice of Yeddyurappa himself, which he had also conceded, Mr. Byregowda says.
The Leader of Opposition speaking to media two days ago in the corridors of Vidhana Soudha said, 'I am in touch with many MLAs and they are ready to join BJP.' "Doesn't it show who is behind this? How many attempts have been made to topple this government in the last one year, he asks.
"How did 17 or 18 people got together without any planning or help from anyone? The BJP likes the world to believe that. But how do we take that as a voluntary effort that happened without any provocation? Did they all , on one fine morning, decide to get together and leave for Mumbai?" he asks.
Mr. Byregowda displays images of BJP leader R. Ashoka with rebel MLA MTB Nagaraj while the latter boarded a special flight to Mumbai. Mr. Ashoka and Mr. Bopaiah were seen meeting rebel MLAs as well, he said.
The Biryani row
BJP MLA C.T. Ravi, intervenes, raises the issue of IMA group fraud case. He says the government needs to clarify on who ate biryani with the accused and who protected him.
Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy raises to clarify saying the 'biryani' reference was to him. "The MLA Krishna Byregowda referred to took me to an iftar dinner and I did not know Mansoor Khan. After a recent heart complication I have stopped eating biryani and did not eat biryani at Mansoor Khan's place," he says adding it is the SIT he had formed had arrested Mansoor Khan.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar advises the CM to opt for chicken and fish instead of biryani and he need not give up eating non-vegetarian food altogether!
Mr. Byregowda says his reference to the IMA case was only to make a point that an MLA alleged to have a role in the scam has said he was in touch with the BJP and he would shake hands with the BJP. The BJP has now colluded with this MLA to bring in an alternative government.
A small recap of the biryani row. Last month the Karnataka BJP posted a photo of Mr. Kumaraswamy seen sharing the frame with the IMA fraud accused Mansoor Khan. The JD(S) responded it was an old picture taken out of context. The accused, Mansoor Khan, had claimed he had borrowed ₹400 crore from the rebel MLA Roshan Baig.
"How is buying and selling of MLAs legitimate and an extended discussion on it is billed immoral and a violation of norms?" asks Krishna Byregowda.
He quotes another conversation of a rebel MLA's family member with another leader where the MLA's family member is saying he has two cases. The leader is heard saying their party is in power in centre and will form govt here as well and "we will take care."
"Is this morality?" Mr. Byregowda asks. The leader is later heard saying if they want only cash they will give ₹15 crore and if he wants a ministry they will give ₹5 crore. This is their morality, he says.
Another MLA has been accused of swindling ₹400 crore from a fraudulent company... Mr. Byregowda says, but is interrupted by BJP members. Overruling objections by the BJP, the minister promises to give all documentary evidence and the members not being present in the House to defend themselves is their problem.
Byregowda targets rebels, Shettar objects
Minister and Congress MLA Krishna Byregowda speaks. "One of the rebel MLAs Ramesh Jarkiholi has been in touch with BJP from the past 8 months. He has camped in Mumbai in November 2018, and again in January 2019 and has worked for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. We have moved a disqualification petition."
Targetting BJP, Mr. Byregowda continues. "B.C. Patil is disgruntled for not being made a minister. There is an audio tape of his conversation with two leaders. I don't want to name the other leader who is speaking in this audio."
He quotes from the audio where the two leaders are talking of money to be paid and how the other leader is heard assuring Mr. Patil that there won't be a bye-poll as well and says as soon as a BJP govt is formed, they will have their own Speaker who would neither accept their resignations nor disqualify them.
"The same thing has happened in Andhra. A national leader from that party also makes the same assurance," he says.
Jagdish Shettar takes objection. He says allegations cannot be made against members who aren't present in the House.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar overrules the objection. "They were given the right to sit here by the people and they had not written to me explaining their absence as well." Your objection will sustain when allegations are being made against those who are not members of this House, not members of the House who have opted not to come, he tells Mr. Shettar.
Motion to go for voting today?
"Let us not create the impression that the debate is being stretched beyond reasonable time," Speaker Ramesh Kumar says hinting that vote should be held today.
He appeals to coalition leaders to honour the commitment that the confidence motion would be completed by Monday.
“It will not bring respect to the House or to me,” the Speaker makes his position clear, implying that the trust vote should not be delayed further.
“We are in public life. People are watching. In the name of discussion, if an opinion is created that we are wasting time, it won’t be right on my part or anybody else’s,” he says.
BJP MLA Jagdish Shettar pleads that a time should be fixed before which debate will conclude.
'Parties free to exercise their right to issue whip to their MLAs, including rebels'
Assembly proceedings begin.
Speaker apologises for coming late. Speaker responds to Congress leader Siddaramaiah's Point of Order on the Supreme Court order that said the 15 rebel MLAs ought not to be compelled to attend the session had circumvented tenth schedule of the Constitution.
He says this was a strange situation as none of the legislature party leaders were party to the Supreme Court order, while he was. "But the whip is a matter concerning the legislature party leaders and not me," he adds.
In his ruling, the Speaker says the legislature party leaders were free to exercise their right to issue whip to their MLAs, including 15 rebel MLAs, and the House wouldn't infringe upon that right.
SC refuses urgent hearing
The Supreme Court has declined an urgent hearing to two independent Karnataka MLAs seeking a direction from the court to the Speaker and State government to conclude the ongoing trust vote in the Legislative Assembly on or before 5 p.m. on July 22. A Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi may likely schedule the application, including a plea for impleadment, of legislators, R. Shankar and H. Nagesh, represented by advocate Diksha Rai, for July 23.
'Congress-JD(S) alliance wooing BJP MLAs'
Senior BJP MLA Arvind Limbavali claims the ruling side is trying to poach BJP MLAs in a desperate attempt to save their government.
Speaking at the corridors of Vidhana Soudha minutes before the session is scheduled to begin, he claims a ruling minister called him and tried to "woo me to the coalition."
This in the light of he being known to have played a key role in "Operation Kamala".
When quizzed who was the minister was, Mr. Limbavali says he would name him "at an appropriate time."
He says he has information that a few BJP leaders had also joined hands with the coalition leaders. "We are working to defuse these bombs," he says. This comes in the wake of a recent complaint Mr. Limbavali had filed alleging that a morphed video of him in a compromising position with another man was being deliberately shared to target him.
Mayawati asks Mahesh to back HDK
The move of the lone BSP legislator, N. Mahesh, is now being curiously watched. While he had earlier said he would abstain from the Assembly session as he was yet to get a direction from his party chief, on Sunday evening BSP supremo Mayawati took to Twitter to announce that Mr. Mahesh would vote in favour of the confidence motion, bringing some relief to beleaguered coalition government. However, Mr. Mahesh could not be contacted for comments.
Speaker issues notice to rebel MLAs
Speaker Ramesh Kumar issues notice to rebel MLAs, summons them to his office at 11 a.m on July 23.
The notice was issued over their disqualification plea by coalition leaders.
The notice has been issued to 15 MLAs — 12 from Congress and three from JD(S) — based on petitions seeking their disqualification under Tenth Schedule of the Constitution for defection by their respective parties.
Outrage over drama
The ongoing political drama in Karnataka seems to have caused much outrage among the public against all the three major political parties in the State, especially against those rebel MLAs who have resigned and holed up in Mumbai.
The political stock of all three political parties has plunged as people do not seem to see any perceptible difference between the three, said Sandeep Shastri, national coordinator of Lokniti, a network of political researchers.
Coalition leaders strategise on delaying the vote on confidence motion scheduled for today
Amid speculation over change of leadership in the JD(S)–Congress coalition government to save it from the brink, JD(S) leaders met coordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah on Sunday to discuss the possibility of such a move.
JD(S) Ministers C.S. Puttaraju, G.T. Deve Gowda, and S.R. Mahesh, and party legislator Shivalinge Gowda met the former Chief Minister for nearly an hour to discuss the possibility of him taking charge. Later, they also met Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar and explained the circumstances under which they had put forth the idea to save the coalition from collapsing, especially ahead of the trust vote scheduled for Monday.