New Delhi: Despite the Supreme Court’s intervention, the political stalemate in Karnataka saw no end on Thursday as the state Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar asserted that he needs to examine the resignations submitted by rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs. Earlier in the day, the top court had directed the Speaker to decide ‘forthwith’ on Thursday about the resignation of 10 rebel Congress-JD(S) coalition MLAs, allowing them to meet him at 6 pm. A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the decision taken by the Speaker has to be intimated on Friday when the court takes up the matter again.
Speaking to reporters after a one-hour meeting with the rebel MLAs, the speaker said that he would to have examine if the resignations by ruling coalition MLAs were voluntary and genuine. “As per the Karnataka Legislature Rules, intended resignation should be ‘in perfect format’, Kumar told media persons after meeting the disgruntled legislators.
“MLAs don’t communicate to me and rush to the Governor. What can he do? Is it not misuse? They approached the SC. My obligation is to people of this state and Constitution of the country. I am delaying because I love this land. I am not acting in haste”, speaker stated.
He added,”The Supreme Court has asked me to take a decision. I have video-graphed everything and I will send it to the Supreme Court. They (rebel MLAs) told me that some people had threatened them and they went to Mumbai in fear. But I told them that they should’ve approached me and I would’ve given them protection. Only 3 working days have elapsed but they behaved like an earthquake occurred.”
Furthermore, he rejected allegations which held him responsible for the current political situation in Karnataka. “I felt hurt when I saw some news that I am delaying the process. Governor informed me on 6th. I was in office till then and later I left for personal work. Before that no MLAs informed that they were coming to meet me. On July 6, I was in my chamber till 1.30 pm. The MLAs came there at 2 pm, they didn’t even take prior appointment. So, it’s untrue that I ran away because they were coming,” the speaker defended himself.
Blame game continues
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury lambasted the BJP and accused it of involving in ‘horse-trading’ to make India ‘Opposition free’. “The current horse-trading happening in Karnataka is part of BJP’s agenda to make India Opposition free. The BJP will go to any extent to grab power,” Yechury told reporters.
BJP, on the other hand, hit out at the speaker saying the latter is behaving unconstitutionally and undemocratically. The saffron party accused the speaker of colluded with the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition. “What is the Speaker’s problem if the MLAs are resigning?” the BJP leader’s comment comes soon after the speaker Ramesh Kumar sought more time to examine resignations.
10-day session to begin Friday
Kumar’s clear intent to delay accepting the resignations assumes significance as the Assembly will be convening on Friday for a 10-day session. Till their resignations are accepted, the 16 legislators – 13 of the Congress and 3 of the Janata Dal-Secular – would be bound by the whip issued by their respective parties regarding their attendance of the Assembly and any voting therein.
And if they violate the whip, they can face disciplinary action, including disqualification, which will bar them from re-election for the remaining period of the Assembly. Both the Congress and the JD-S have issued whips to all their legislators to be present in the Assembly for passing the state Budget (finance bill) and participate in the discussions on other subjects till the session ends.
“The whip has been issued even to the rebels, as their resignations have not been accepted by the Speaker so far,” Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda told a news agency.
CM HD Kumaraswamy said that Congress-JDS coalition in the state is going strong despite the efforts to destabilise. “We are confident and prepared for a smooth and fruitful conduct of legislative sessions,” the Chief Minister said.
What will happen if the speaker accepts all 16 resignations?
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.
Besides the 16 MLAs of the Congress and the JD-S, the KPJP legislator and the Independent have also withdrawn their support to the government. On the other hand, the BJP has 105 MLAs and is eyeing the government formation.
In the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated, the Congress has 79 MLAs, including Speaker, and JD-S has 37. Lone members of BSP and KPJP (a regional outfit) besides an Independent also were with the government, taking their tally to 118, five more than the required majority mark.