The Karnataka political drama moves to Mumbai as trouble shooters are rushed to convince rebel MLAs to return
The actions of the Karnataka assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar appear to have postponed the certain collapse of the Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition government and prepared it to face the no-confidence motion in the assembly when it meets on July 12.
The slight pause in the fall has given extra time to the Congress and JDS leaders to cajole and convince at least five of the 12 MLAs to return to the respective party folds by withdrawing their resignation letters from the membership of the assembly.
This has led to the two teams rushing to Mumbai where the rebel MLAs are holed up in a five-star hotel in Powai.
The first team to reach Mumbai last evening was that of the BJP. Former deputy chief minister R Ashok and former Speaker KG Bopaiah, whose decision to disqualify MLAs during the BJP rule in 2008-2013 came in for severe criticism by the Supreme Court.
The second team is led by Congress trouble shooter and water resources minister DK Shiva Kumar. A third team arrived in Bengaluru on Tuesday evening. This consists of the veteran Congress trouble shooter Ghulam Nabi Azad and well known advocate and former union minister Kapil Sibal.
Some rebel MLAs wrote to the Mumbai police asking for protection and to ensure that DK Shiva Kumar and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy were not allowed into the hotel.
They even raised slogans asking Shiva Kumar to go back. He was subsequently escorted away from the hotel premises by the Mumbai police.
Meanwhile Karnataka BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa sat on dharna outside the Vidhana Soudha protesting against the Speaker’s decisions.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar, who returned to office after his tour, took some quick decisions. One of the first announcements from him was that he found only five of the 13 resignation letters as per the prescribed format for members to resign.
The second was that he gave time to those MLAs whose papers were found to be as per the prescribed format.
“We have informed five of them to physically present themselves before me on 12th and 15th July. Those whose papers were not as per the prescribed format can submit fresh resignation letters, if they desired so,” Ramesh Kumar said.
The Karnataka coalition government was thrown into a crisis when 12 MLAs of both the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular decided to resign from the membership of the assembly. Of these, five of them joined the bandwagon of those who were already with the BJP since December.
The resignation of two Independent MLAs from the ministry led to the demand from the BJP that the coalition government had lost majority and that it should step down even before the vote of confidence in the assembly.
The BJP expected the Speaker to accept the resignation letters forthwith because it would help it replace the coalition government.
Technically, if the Speaker had accepted the resignation letters as submitted at his office by the MLAs, the government would have less number of seats than the BJP. It would be have been 107 of the BJP versus 105 of the JDS-Congress in the 224 member assembly.
Meanwhile, the Congress also presented its petition seeking disqualification of the MLAs, with the exception of former home minister Ramalinga Reddy.
“They are elected on a party ticket and their resignations have to be genuine and voluntary. Since they are not, they violate the anti-defection law. We want the Speaker to disqualify them for a period of six years,” said leader of the Congress legislature party, Siddaramaiah.