As suspense continues over the formation of the next government in Karnataka with the single largest party BJP still awaiting for instruction from the central leadership, state Assembly speaker K R Ramesh Kumar on Thursday played another master stroke by announcing the disqualifications of three MLAs. They include two Congress MLAs, and R Shankar, an Independent member who had pledged his support to BJP after resigning from the outgoing government.
Shankar, who represents Ranebennur constituency in the state, was one of the two independent MLAs who had quit the Congress-JD (S) coalition government supporting the BJP. The speaker said that Shankar, who was from Karnataka Pragnavantara Janata Paksha, had joined Congress in the Assembly, and thus had been disqualified for the rest of the tenure of the assembly according to the 10th Schedule of the Constitution. In the outgoing government, Shankar was a minister for Municipal Administration.
The other two members are Ramesh Jharkiholi and Mahesh Kumthahalli, who belong to the Congress party and represent the Gokak and Athani constituencies in the state, respectively. Both of them have been suspended for speaking against party leadership in public instead of raising those issues in the party forum. Kumar said that these disqualified MLAs could not contest elections until the expiry of the term of 15th Assembly until May 2023.
As the Assembly speaker, Kumar still holds the key as his decision on the resignations of the rebel Congress and JD (S) MLAs would be key for the formation of the new government.
All eyes are on BJP's next move even though the party is yet to stake the claim for the formation of the next government in want of the go-ahead by the central leadership. Experts believe that the party is waiting for the decision of the Assembly Speaker on the resignation of the rebel MLAs without which it will not be able to show the majority. Even if the resignations are accepted and till the time these lawmakers are elected back to the Assembly, the party will be in minority with just 104 MLAs in a house of 224 members.
According to political analysts, even though the state BJP is confident of forming the next government and party state head B S Yedyurappa is eagerly waiting to be sworn in as the chief minister for the fourth time, the move does not look easy. One of the biggest challenges before BJP would be to appease all the 15 rebel MLAs who are eying Cabinet positions which may create disturbances within the state unit, limiting the scope of ministerial aspirants within the party.