Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday defied two deadlines given to him by Governor Vajubhai Vala to prove his majority in the Assembly. The chief minister and Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao also moved the Supreme Court separately, seeking clarification on the 17 July order which gave freedom to 15 rebel MLAs holed up in Mumbai from participating in the Assembly proceedings.
Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar adjourned the House till Monday after the Assembly members debated on the no confidence motion, moved by Kumaraswamy, for the second day. The trust vote is now likely to be held on 22 July, with the ruling Congress-JD(S) leaders claiming that a number of speakers were still left to participate in the debate.
The day-long debate and drama was marked by heated exchanges between the ruling and Opposition members over the powers of a governor and the need to respect his directive. As the House resumed proceedings in the morning, the governor shot off a missive to the chief minister to prove his majority by 1.30 pm. There was a lot of debate on the directive itself and in the midst of uproar, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar adjourned the House till 3 pm.
This was followed by another directive from the governor to Kumaraswamy that the confidence vote business should be completed by 6 pm. Intervening in the debate, Kumaraswamy virtually ruled out proving his majority in the Assembly by the second deadline set by the governor, when he sought protection from the Assembly Speaker in the matter.
He said the "second love letter" sent by Vala asking him to prove majority in the Assembly before 6 pm hurt him and asked him whether he came to know of horse-trading only now. "I leave the decision on the floor test to you (the Speaker). It won't be directed by Delhi. I request you to protect me from the letter sent by the governor," Kumaraswamy had said.
Displaying photos of BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa's personal assistant Santosh purportedly boarding a plane with Independent MLA H Nagesh in the Assembly, the chief minister suggested that horse-trading indulged in by BJP was on for the last 10 days.
"I have respect for the governor. But his second love letter has hurt me. Did he only come to know about horse-trading 10 days ago?" he said.
CM HD Kumaraswamy: I have respect for the Governor. But the second love letter from the Governor has hurt me. He only came to know about horse trading 10 days ago?(Shows photos of BS Yeddyurappa's PA Santosh, reportedly boarding a plane with independent MLA H Nagesh) pic.twitter.com/VIcA4TUmeI
— ANI (@ANI) July 19, 2019
The House was also locked in a debate on when the trust vote process should be completed. "Lot of discussion has happened; I want to close it (trust motion process) today," the Speaker said towards the end of the day's proceedings.
Kumaraswamy said "I have made preliminary submission; we can conclude (the process) on Monday." BJP leader Suresh Kumar said sanctity of trust vote would be lost if dragged on and insisted the process be completed Friday itself.
As the first deadline approached, BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa stood up and pressed for division on the confidence motion and his party insisted that Kumaraswamy should make it clear whether he would obey the governor's directive or not.
The Speaker said there was a process to be followed and the motion would be put to vote, if pressed for, according to rules after discussion.
Senior ministers RV Deshpande and Krishna Byre Gowda asserted that once the motion was moved, it was the property of the House and no one can insist to do things in a specific way.
Amid pandemonium, Congress members accused the BJP of misusing the governor's office to conspire against the government and shouted slogans, "Go back governor."
Kumaraswamy mounted a scathing attack on the BJP accusing it of offering Rs 40-50 crore bribe to the ruling coalition legislators to lure them away and bring down his government.
He alleged that an atmosphere was created from day one that "this government will go" and it was unstable.
"After 14 months (in power), we have come to the final stage," Kumaraswamy said. "Let's have discussion. You (BJP) can still form government. Nothing urgent. You can do it on Monday or Tuesday also. I am not going to misuse power."
He further said: "From the day I came to power, I have known it won't be for long... I am here to see for how long you will sit in power ... how stable your government will be with the people who are now helping you," he said.
He was making an apparent reference to the 15 dissident Congress and JDS MLAs whose resignations from the Assembly has triggered the present crisis.
Allegations of bribery flew thick and fast as the debate progressed with the ruling coalition ministers and members targeting the BJP for its alleged toppling game.
"Legislators were offered Rs 40-50 crore to lure them; whose money is it?" asked Kumaraswamy hitting out at BJP even as the opposition party members remained unruffled apparently to ensure there was no disorder that would disturb voting. JDS MLA Srinivas Gowda alleged he was offered Rs 5 crore bribe by BJP to defect to bring down the government.
Minister SR Mahesh alleged former JD(S) state president Vishwanath had told him that he needs money as he has election-related loan of Rs 28 crore.
Krishna Byre Gowda alleged hundreds of crores of rupees were being pumped in to bring down the government.
In his speech, Kumaraswamy accused BJP of resorting to ways to circumvent the anti-defection law. Kumaraswamy asked BJP why it is in a hurry to end the trust vote debate in one day if it was sure of its numbers. "Why is the BJP in a hurry, if they have the numbers... why the hurry to end the debate in one day.... I know it is not easy to get your MLAs," Kumaraswamy said looking towards Yeddyurappa.
Kumaswamy, Congress move Supreme Court
Kumaraswamy and Congress' Dinesh Gundu Rao moved the Supreme Court on Friday accusing the governor of interfering with the Assembly proceedings during the debate on trust vote, and sought clarification on its 17 July order causing hindrance in issuing whip to the legislators.
While Kumaraswamy questioned the deadlines set by the governor one after another for completing the trust vote, Rao submitted that the apex court order was passed without involving the Congress legislature party, which presently has 79 MLAs in the Assembly.
The apex court on 17 July passed the order on the plea of the 15 rebel MLAs in which the Speaker and Kumaraswamy were made respondents.
Both the applications were filed at a time when the Assembly was debating the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy.
The chief minister stated in his application that "the governor cannot dictate to the House the manner in which the debate of the confidence motion has to be taken up". "The directions of the governor are completely contrary to the well settled law laid down by this court in relation to the governors powers. The directions of the governor are ex-facie in contravention of the judgment of this court," his plea said.
Rao's application sought clarification on the order which said the 15 rebel MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the ongoing Assembly proceedings, saying that the direction compromises with the party's right to issue whip. "It is respectfully submitted that as a result of the order dated 17 July, the constitutional rights of the applicant under the Tenth Schedule are vitally affected and as such the instant application is being moved," the Congress plea said.
It submitted that under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, a political party has a right to issue a whip to its legislators, the ground also taken by Kumaraswamy. "The exercise of this right under the Constitution is not circumscribed by any condition nor can it be subject to any restrictive orders from the court even prior to the issuance of the whip. More importantly, any enquiry for the purposes of the Tenth Schedule is a proceeding of the Legislature of the State within the meaning of Article 212 of the Constitution," both the applications said.
The apex court order had said that the 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka "ought not" to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the state Assembly and an option should be given to them as to whether they wanted to take part or stay out of it.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said that the Speaker will decide on the resignation of the 15 MLAs within such time-frame as considered appropriate by him.
The bench, also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, had said the speaker's discretion in deciding on the MLAs' resignations should not be fettered by the court's directions or observations and he should be left free to decide the issue. The apex court also said the Speaker's decision be placed before it.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 19, 2019 21:52:55 IST