Bengaluru: Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy on Friday presented the state budget even as the rebel Congress MLAs remained incommunicado, prompting senior leader Siddaramaiah to raise demand for suspension of the dissenting legislators.
“Will petition before the assembly speaker to suspend the four dissenting Congress MLAs,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP staged a walkout amid the Budget speech by Kumaraswamy, claiming that the coalition government had lost majority in the House.
On Wednesday, nine Congress MLAs ignored the party whip and skipped the legislature meeting. These included the four – Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh G Jadhav, B Nagendra, Mahesh Kumathalli, who had skipped the January 18 Congress legislature party (CLP) meeting.
MLA J N Ganesh, who is declared absconding after an alleged brawl with a colleague lawmaker at a resort recently, was among the absentees.
The whip asking all ruling coalition legislators to be present on all days of the budget session of the assembly was issued Tuesday amid allegations of renewed bid by BJP to destabilisethe Kumaraswamy ministry.
With the four rebel Congress lawmakers remaining incommunicado, CLP leader Siddaramaiah warned them of disqualification under the anti-defection law if they do not attend the CLP meeting on Friday morning.
Speculations are rife that the four MLAs are still in touch with the BJP and may jump ship, as they have not yet responded to the second notice issued by Siddaramaiah asking them to appear before him and explain their absence from the CLP meeting.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to pacify the disgruntled MLAs, Kumaraswamy on Thursday gave key positions to them in the government. The beneficiaries inclde Pratap Gowda Patil, Basaveshwaranagar Daddal and MA Gopalaswamy.
Kumaraswamy is set to present the state budget for 2019-20 on Friday at 12.32 pm, considered an auspicious time — a move that has come in for criticism from the opposition BJP.
The budget is set to be read out amid protests by the BJP, whose legislators entered the well of the House for a second day, having ensured on Wednesday that governor Vajubhai Vala cut short his address to the joint sitting of both Houses.
According to BJP sources, the party would continue its agitation against the government in the assembly and during budget presentation on Friday.
The saffron party has already expressed doubts about budget presentation, with senior leaders like R Ashoka claiming that 20 to 25 disgruntled MLAs of the alliance were out of reach of their leaders.
This is the first session after the cabinet expansion in December that brought to fore dissidence in the Congress and political turmoil that engulfed the statefollowing BJP’s alleged bid to poach disgruntled legislators of the ruling coalition.
The crisis last month that saw return of resort politics was triggered by a few CongressMLAs reportedly camping in Mumbai along with BJP leaders, amid reports that they might switch sides to the saffron camp.