Twist in Karnataka crisis: Speaker disqualifies Independent R Shankar, two rebel Congress MLAs under anti-defection law

Two days after the Congress-JD(S) coalition government collapsed following chief minister HD Kumaraswamy's trust vote loss, Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Thursday announced the disqualification of Independent MLA R Shankar and two other Congress legislators for the entire current term of the Assembly.

The move against Shankar, and the two Congress MLAs — Ramesh Jarakiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli — was taken under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, also known as the anti-defection law.

Addressing a press conference in Bengaluru, the Speaker said he was convinced that the resignations by the three members were not voluntary and genuine and he had therefore rejected them and proceeded to disqualify them under the anti-defection law.

"They have violated the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution (anti-defection law) and therefore are disqualified," he said. Announcing his decision, the Speaker also said he would take a call on the remaining 14 cases in a "couple of days".

Elaborating on Shankar's disqualification, the Speaker said: "R Shankar had merged his KPJP (Karnataka Pragnavantara Janata Paksha) with the Congress in June. On 20 June, I was notified that he be considered as a Congress MLA. On 8 July, he gave his resignation after which he wrote to me and the governor that he will support BJP unequivocally.

"Congress Legislative Party leader Siddaramaiah had filed a complaint against him and he is being disqualified. Shankar is disqualified up to May 2023, end of 15th State Legislative Assembly."

Welcoming the verdict, the Congress tweeted with the #VictoryForDemocracy.

The Congress and the JD(S) had sought disqualification of their rebel MLAs under the anti-defection law, but the dissident legislators were not deterred by it and skipped the Assembly proceedings during the crucial confidence vote on Tuesday.

The rebel MLAs were supposed to appear before the Speaker on Tuesday morning ahead of the trust vote. However, six lawyers gave a representation to the Speaker and sought four weeks' time on their behalf.

After losing the trust vote, Kumaraswamy submitted his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala at Raj Bhavan along with his cabinet ministers. He is now the caretaker chief minister till an alternative government is formed.

The loss marked the end of an uneasy coalition that was formed after the Assembly polls on 23 May, 2018, which returned a hung verdict after three main parties in the state — Congress, BJP and the JD (S) — contested against each other in the polls.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 25, 2019 21:56:04 IST