The crisis in Karnataka continued on Thursday, with 10 dissident MLAs meeting Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar and tendering their resignations, which he said he will need to ascertain whether they are genuine and voluntary before taking a decision.
The rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs, who had earlier in the day moved the Supreme Court, reached the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru in a chartered flight from Mumbai under police protection at 6 pm as directed by the apex court and met Kumar in his chamber to give their fresh resignations.
— ANI (@ANI) July 11, 2019
Talking to the media after the MLAs met him, Kumar dismissed the charge that he was delaying a decision on these resignations to help the government, which has allegedly lost its majority.
"I need to examine these resignations (of rebel MLAs) all night and ascertain if they are genuine. The Supreme Court has asked me to take a decision. I have video-graphed everything and I will send it to the Supreme Court," said Kumar.
"I am delaying accepting the resignations because I love this land and I am not acting in haste because I have to convince myself. I am 70 years old and I don't have to believe that I am going to live another 100 years, but at least I must die peacefully," he said.
To a question, the Speaker said he has asked the MLAs to give their arguments in writing. "They (rebel MLAs) told me that some people had threatened them and they went to Mumbai in fear. But I told them that they should have approached me and I would have given them protection. Only 3 working days have elapsed but they behaved like that an earthquake occurred," said Kumar.
"I said, I am repeating it, and I am emphasising that I am not under anybody's obligation. My obligation is to the aspirations of people of state and constitution of this republic," he said.
Recalling the sequence of events from Saturday (6 July) when the MLAs resigned, Kumar said he was in the office on that day between 10.30 and 12.45 in the morning and the legislators had not sought any appointment with him nor did they meet him. They came in the afternoon after he left the office and gave their resignations.
"On 6 July, I was in my chamber till 1.30 pm. The MLAs came there at 2 pm, they didn't even take prior appointment. So, it's untrue that I ran away because they were coming. I felt hurt when I saw some news that I am delaying the process. The governor informed me on 6 June. I was in office till then, and later I left for personal work. Before that, no MLAs informed that they were coming to meet me," he said.
Sunday was a holiday and the Speaker said he he had some personal commitments to attend to on Monday, due to which he did not come to his office.
"I have been in the office on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I scrutinised resignations based on Rule 202 of Karnataka Assembly Rules and Procedures. Eight letters were not in the prescribed format. In case of the rest, I am obliged to look if resignations are voluntary and genuine. I won't speak about voluntary and genuine nature of resignations," he said.
The Speaker said the MLAs did not approach him, but rushed to the governor. "What can he do? Is it not misuse (of the system)? They (rebel MLAs) approached the Supreme Court," he said.
Kumar said that his detractors expected him to work with "lightning speed" but he has to respect the Constitution and rules before he takes a decision. He also went into history about defections as a malady since the late 60s and how the anti-defection law was made in 1985. He said he has been in public life for 40 years and he was not obliged to anybody while deciding this issue. "I do not want to commit any mistake," he said.
Kumar said while accepting resignation was one thing, deciding on disqualification was another because a disqualified person cannot re-enter the same House. Earlier on Thursday, the Supreme Court allowed ten rebel MLAs to meet Kumar at 6 pm to convey to him their decision to resign and asked the Speaker to take a decision during the course of the day. Kumar moved the top court against this order, and the matter was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi who said that the Speaker's application be taken up for hearing along with the main matter on Friday.
The bench told Singhvi that Kumar's application will be heard Friday.
The resignation of 16 MLAs (13 from Congress and three from JDS) has pushed the coalition government in Karnataka to the brink of collapse. Two independent MLAs have also withdrawn support to the coalition government.
With crisis hitting its unit in both Karnataka and Goa, the Congress held a "save democracy" protest outside the Parliament.
Shri Rahul Gandhi and senior leaders of the Congress Party protest outside the Parliament against horse-trading by the BJP, pic.twitter.com/ou9kij6mai
— Congress (@INCIndia) July 11, 2019
Meanwhile, the JD(S) said it has approached the Speaker, seeking disqualification of three of its legislators, who are among the 16 coalition MLAs who have resigned. The three MLAs against whom JD(S) has sought disqualification are AH Vishwanath (from Hunsur constituency), KC Narayanagowda (KR Pet) and K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout). However, the Speaker said he cannot take cognisance of the JD(S)s petition to disqualify the legislators as it was not filed in the proper format. Congress has already filed a petition with the Speaker, seeking disqualification of rebel party MLAs.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 11, 2019 21:31:11 IST