New Delhi: Ahead of a possible vote of confidence in the Karnataka Vidhan Soudha (Assembly), the ruling Congress-JD(S) and the Opposition BJP decided to guard their legislators from being poached. While the Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) has been keeping about 30 of its legislators at the Golfshire Resort near Nandi Hills, Bengaluru, the Congress moved its 50 MLAs to the Clarks Exotica Convention Resorts on the outskirts of the city. The Opposition BJP in Karnataka also moved 80 of its 105 lawmakers to the Ramada resort at Yelahanka after Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy announced that he would seek a trust vote in the assembly despite the resignation by rebel legislators.
“As the BJP has already poached about a dozen legislators to destabilise our coalition government for its ‘operation kamala’, we have moved about 50 of our party members to Clarks Exotica Convention Resorts on the outskirts of the city,” Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda told a news agency. Furthermore, he asserted,”We have shifted them to the resort from the Legislature Home to prevent the BJP leaders or their friends from meeting them and whisking them away as it happened in the case of a couple of our and JD-S members.”
Echoing similar remarks, JD(S) leader Ramesh Babu said,”Our legislators have been staying at a private resort outside the city to ensure the BJP does not poach them as it did with three of them. As most of their constituencies are far from Bengaluru, they will be put up there till the 10-day session ends on February 26. They will be brought to the Vidhan Souda to attend the session.”
BJP spokesman G Madhusudana, on the other hand, said that the party has been forced to shift its MLAs. “We have been forced to shift our legislators to a resort to ensure that they stay put at one place for consultations or discussions and to prevent them from meeting or speaking to any of the Congress-JD-S leaders who have been trying to wean away some of our members to make up the numbers after 16 of their MLAs resigned and their shaky year-old government got reduced to minority,” the BJP leader added.
Earlier in the day, in a surprise move amid the crisis, Kumaraswamy declared that he was ‘ready to prove majority in the House’. “As I am ready to seek trust vote to prove my government has majority, I request you to fix date and time to move it in the House,” the Chief Minister told speaker in the Assembly on the first day of the 10-day Monsoon session.
Furthermore, Kumaraswamy stated he was also ready to face a trial of strength in the Assembly if the BJP moved a no-confidence motion. “I leave it to you to decide if I should seek trust-vote or face a no-confidence motion on the floor of this House when you fix the date and time. I can continue as Chief Minister after the floor test in view of the prevailing political situation caused by the spate of resignations by some of our legislators,” ,” HDK told the speaker in Kannada.
Kumaraswamy’s sudden act of bravado came soon after the Supreme Court ordered status quo in the matter of resignation and disqualification of 10 MLAs and set the next date of hearing for July 16. The three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi gave the Speaker additional time on his plea to modify its Thursday order to decide on the resignations by Friday.
Responding to Kumaraswamy’s move, Speaker KR Ramesh said that a slot would be allotted whenever the CM opted for it. “The Chief Minister (HD Kumaraswamy) has spoken his mind that he would not cling to power amid the confusion. He said he will seek the trust of the House. Whenever he tells me that he wants to move the trust motion, the very next day I will put it in the business of the day,” the speaker told reporters.
On being asked if it was justified for the CM Kumaraswamy to sought a trust vote while paying condolences in the Assembly, Kumar said the question should be asked to Kumaraswamy. “I feel that it can be heard because he had said that he will not cling to power in the current situation. I cannot say that I will hear it today itself. He has only informed me that on a certain day he will seek the trust vote. My job will be to include it in the list of business of the day,” a portal quoted Kumar as saying.
Yesterday, 10 rebels, including seven of the Congress and three of the JD-S, had approached the apex court and alleged that the Speaker was deliberately delaying acceptance of their resignations which they submitted in his office on July 6.
The Speaker, however, said that of the 13 resignations received by his office eight were not in the prescribed format and he wanted them re-submitted by July 11. The rebel MLAs re-submitted their resignations to him on Thursday evening. “The legislators wrote their resignation in my office in the prescribed format and submitted to me personally. I will go through them and decide after I hear them personally,” Kumar had said on Thursday after meeting the rebel MLAs in Vidhan Soudha.
He added, “I am answerable to the Constitution of India and people of Karnataka. As per the Constitution, if I am satisfied, then the resignations will be accepted.”
If the Speaker accepts all the 16 resignations, the Assembly’s effective strength will drop to 209 from 225 and the ruling coalition will be reduced to 100, when the halfway mark would be 105.
At present, the Congress has 79 MLAs, including Speaker, and JD-S has 37 in the 225-member Assembly. Lone members of BSP and KPJP (a regional outfit) beside an Independent also were with the government, taking their tally to 118, five more than the required majority mark. The BJP, which is eyeing the government formation amid the turmoil has 105 MLAs.