The Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka lived to see another day on Thursday as the Assembly was adjourned till Friday amid an uproar during the debate on the motion of confidence moved by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. Miffed by the development, the BJP decided to stay inside the Assembly to hold an overnight 'dharna' over their demand to hold the floor test on Thursday itself.
The House was adjourned by Deputy Speaker Krishna Reddy as the Congress members persistently shouted slogans against the BJP. Before the adjournment, BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa declared that his party members would stay put in the House overnight, and till the time the trust vote was decided.
He said the confidence motion was not even discussed properly for 15 minutes and other issues were brought in by the ruling coalition members to delay the trust vote. "There has been a breach of constitutional framework," he said, adding that it was unparalleled. "To protest against this, we will sleep here itself," Yeddyurappa said.
Bengaluru: BJP MLAs inside the state Assembly after the House was adjourned for the day. They are on an over night 'dharna' demanding that the Speaker replies to the Governor's letter and holds a floor test. #Karnataka pic.twitter.com/GWwYRFzOfT
— ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2019
Marked by a high drama, the Karnataka assembly took up the confidence motion to decide the fate of the coalition government wracked by depleted numbers after rebellion by a section of ruling coalition MLAs. The drama unfolded right from the beginning, facing a truncated strength caused by the resignation of 16 ruling coalition MLAs, Kumaraswamy moved a one-line motion, saying the House expressed confidence in the 14-month old ministry headed by him. A total of 20 lawmakers did not turn up on Thursday, including 17 from the ruling coalition, 12 of whom are corralled in a hotel in Mumbai, as the House debated in a surcharged atmosphere with two adjournments amid pandemonium.
Adding to the worries of the ruling coalition, another Congress MLA Shrimant Patil was not seen in the House, amid reports he has been admitted in a Mumbai hospital. At one point, Congress members carrying pictures of Patil trooped into the Well of the House shouting slogans "Down Down BJP" and "down down operation Kamala (lotus)".
BSP MLA Mahesh, on whose support the coalition was counting, also did not show up, amid reports he was keeping away as he has not received any directions from the party leader Mayawati on the stand to be taken on the vote of confidence.
Seeking the trust vote, Kumaraswamy said the rebel MLAs had cast doubts about the coalition government across the country and "we have to tell the truth." "The entire nation is watching the developments unfolding in Karnataka," he said.
As soon as the motion was moved, BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa stood up and said the trust vote process should be completed in a single day. "The Leader of Opposition seems to be in a hurry," Kumaraswamy then taunted Yeddyurappa.
As the chief minister sought the trust vote, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah pressed for deferring the confidence motion till the Speaker decided on the issue of whip in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict on the political crisis in the state. Siddaramaiah said the 15 rebel MLAs were influenced by the apex court order that they can abstain from attending the Assembly proceedings and asked Speaker to give a ruling on the fate of whip issued by him as CLP leader.
"If this motion is taken up, then it will not be constitutional. It violates the constitutional provisions. I request you to defer it. I want your ruling on this point of order," Siddaramaiah told Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. The Speaker then said he would consult the advocate general and adjourned the House for lunch.
The House later discussed the issue of the whip, amid acrimony between the treasury benches and BJP members on the political turmoil in the state. Sensing an alleged attempt to delay the vote, a BJP delegation rushed to meet Governor Vajubhai Vala to direct the Speaker to conclude the trust vote process on Thursday itself.
Jagadish Shettar, BJP: CM had fixed today for vote of confidence but when the motion was moved & debate started, Siddaramaiah, Krishna Byre Gowda, & HK Patil moved point of orders. We have requested Governor to direct the Speaker to continue the debate on vote of confidence. pic.twitter.com/FgNdFWlksO — ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2019
Acting swiftly, the governor asked the Speaker to complete the process of vote of confidence by the end of the day.
In his message, he said, "The motion of confidence moved by the chief minister of Karnataka is in consideration before the House today. The chief minister is expected to maintain the confidence of the House at all times during his tenure. I, therefore, send this message to the House to consider completing the proceedings of the House by the end of the day."
Vala's message, under Article 175 of the Constitution, added that completing the proceedings by the end of the way will uphold the highest traditions of democracy and parliamentary practice. The Speaker read out the message and said "I have brought it to the notice of the House."
After the House was adjourned, the governor also wrote to Kumaraswamy, asking him to prove his government's majority by 1.30 pm on Friday.
The curious case of Shrimant Patil
The Congress alleged that its MLA Shrimant Patil, who suddenly disappeared after being with them at a resort and went incommunicado, had been 'abducted' as part of efforts to 'topple' the coalition government. The Congress MLAs said in unison that the lawmakers were living in fear and Shrimant was abducted, kept in a room, taken by a special flight and then admitted to a hospital.
Senior minister DK Shivakumar said they would produce documents to show that Shrimant was forcibly admitted to the hospital to skip Assembly.
DK Shivakumar, Congress in Karnataka Assembly says, "There were 8 MLAs who traveled together, here is a picture of one of them (Shrimant Patil) lying inert on a stretcher, where are these people? I'm asking the Speaker to protect our MLAs." Uproar in the house after this. pic.twitter.com/08ugj0XuiM
— ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2019
The Speaker said that Shrimant Patil's letter directed Home Minister MB Patil to get in touch with Shrimant's family and submit a report by Friday. "It does not look natural. If the home minister can't ensure protection, I will talk to DGP," he said. "Our procedure is — you have to go to a government hospital when there is an emergency; medical board has to certify (the treatment). How do I know if this hospital in Mumbai exists?" Shrimant was reportedly seen at the Chennai airport with Karnataka BJP MLA Laxman Savadi on Wednesday night. On Thursday, he was shifted from Bombay Hospital to St George Hospital in Mumbai for his treatment for chest pain. The Karnataka Congress wrote to Bengaluru Police over Shrimant"s "abduction in order to defeat trust vote".
Karnataka Congress MLA Shrimant Patil with Karnataka BJP MLA Laxman Savadi at Chennai Airport,early morning today.Congress MLAs staged a protest in Assembly today, with pictures of Shrimant Patil,after he went incommunicado&was later found to be admitted at a hospital in Mumbai. pic.twitter.com/sSwo4L1hUD — ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2019
Maharashtra: Karnataka Congress MLA Shrimant Patil has been shifted to Mumbai's St. George Hospital from Bombay Hospital and Medical Research Centre for further treatment. pic.twitter.com/M6fTMwKruN — ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2019
BJP members made their displeasure known several times over alleged delay in taking up the voting on the confidence motion, which at one point led to heated exchanges between the Speaker and senior BJP member Madhuswamy, leading to adjournment of the House for half an hour.
Congress and BJP MLAs, who were sequestered in resorts in the city fearing poaching by the rival camps, were herded together and brought in buses just before the Assembly began. "I don't know what their party (Congress-JD(S)) is going to do but we are 105. They will be less than 100. We are 100 percent confident that the confidence motion will be defeated," Yeddyurappa earlier said.
The trial of strength is taking place a day after the Supreme Court ruled that the 15 rebel Congress-JDS MLAs "ought not" to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the state Assembly. Armed with the court order, the rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs camping in Mumbai have said there was no question of stepping back on their resignations or attending the session.
As many as 16 MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JD(S) — have tendered their resignations, while Independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh have withdrawn their support to the coalition government, putting the Kumaraswamy-led government in jitters.
The ruling combine's strength is 117: Congress 78, JD(S) 37, BSP 1, and nominated 1, besides the Speaker. With the support of the two Independents, the Opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 225-member House, including the nominated MLA and Speaker.
If the resignations of rebel MLAs are accepted, the ruling coalition's tally will plummet to 101, (excluding the Speaker) reducing the 14 month-old Kumaraswamy government to a minority. This is the third motion on trust vote in the Assembly after the 2018 assembly polls yielded a fractured mandate with the BJP emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats but failing to mobilise numbers.
Yeddyurappa had resigned as chief minister after being in office for three days before facing the trust vote in May 2018. Kumaraswamy, who succeeded him, had won the trust vote after forming the coalition government.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 18, 2019 23:02:57 IST