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Karnataka: Congress releases audio, claims MLA bribery by Janardhana Reddy

As a fallout of the political tussle in Karnataka, the Congress on Friday staked its claim to form the government in Goa and Manipur, while the RJD and Congress staked their claim to form the govt in

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Senior Congress leader and Advocate Abhishek Singhvi leaves after a hearing in Karnataka government formation case, at Supreme Court in New Delhi
Senior Congress leader and Advocate Abhishek Singhvi leaves after a hearing in Karnataka government formation case, at Supreme Court in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered Karnataka Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader B S Yeddyurappa to face a floor test in the Karnataka Assembly tomorrow at 4 pm to prove his majority. Congress President Rahul Gandhi hailed the apex court's order and said that it vindicated the party's stand that Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala had acted unconstitutionally in inviting the BJP to form the government in the state. Not deterred by the order, Yeddyurappa asserted that he was "100 per cent" confident that he would prove majority in the Assembly. Further, reacting to the order, the BJP Karnataka unit tweeted "bring it on"! The saffron party's state unit added that those "doubting the strength of our mandate" should "wait and watch". The Congress Party, for its part, welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to hold the floor test tomorrow, saying that the judgment upheld Constitutional morality and democracy. Congress leader Ashwani Kumar said that the apex court judgment has vindicated the faith of people in the wisdom of the court. Meanwhile, as a fallout of the political tussle in Karnataka, the Congress on Friday staked its claim to form the government in Goa and submitted a letter to Governor Mridula Sinha seeking an invite to prove its majority in the House. A Congress delegation also met Manipur's Acting Governor, Jagdish Mukhi, and staked the party's claim to form the government in the state. Further, led by Tejashwi Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress met Governor Satyapal Malik and staked their claim to form the government in Bihar. On Thursday, the Karnataka Governor had administered the oath of office and secrecy to Yeddyurappa at the Raj Bhavan in a morning ceremony. Governor Vala had told Yeddyurappa to prove that he has the majority in the Legislative Assembly within 15 days. Although the BJP emerged as the single-largest party, winning 104 seats, in the May 12 assembly election, it fell short of eight seats from the 112-halfway mark in the lower House. The Congress trailed behind the saffron party with 78 seats and the regional JD(S) with 37 seats. Congress released audio clip, in which Janaradhana Reddy is allegedly trying to lure Congress MLA from Raichur Rural by offering him money. Here are the top ten developments around the result aftermath and the political turmoil in the state: Cong-JD (S) may move SC to challenge pro tem Speaker's appointment: The Congress-JD (S) combine is contemplating approaching the Supreme Court today itself challenging Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to appoint K G Bopaiah as the pro tem Speaker of the assembly.

One of the lawyers, assisting senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi in the case, said they were contemplating moving the top court with a petition in this regard in which they are likely to say that Bopaiah was not the senior-most MLA and the Governor should not have appointed him as the pro tem (temporary) Speaker.

The Governor's decision came after the top court ordered holding of floor test in the Karnataka assembly tomorrow for ascertaining the majority or otherwise of the B S Yedyurappa's government and for immediate appointment of the pro tem Speaker.

1. BJP's appointment of pro-tem speaker against rulebook, says Congress: Congress on Friday accused BJP of breaking the convention and naming a three-time MLA, K. G. Bopaiah, as the pro-tem speaker ahead of the Saturday's floor test. At a media briefing, Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "What the BJP has done is against the rulebook. Ideally, the senior most leader is supposed to hold that position. We are only asking for the convention to be followed." He added that the Congress was ready for the floor test called by the Supreme Court on Saturday. Slamming Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa for forming the government without a majority, Singhvi asserted, "B. S. Yeddyurappa cannot do magic or alter maths. On what basis did he give a letter without signatures and without a number. B. S. Yeddyurappa should not have claimed majority. They are aware that they cannot turn 104 to majority (112 seats). They cannot muster the required numbers in a day." 2. Karnataka effect: Congress stages protests across Meghalaya: The Congress, which emerged the single largest party in the February elections in Meghalaya but was not invited to form the government, today held statewide protests here and sent a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind urging him to safeguard democratic principles and the sanctity of the Constitution.

The Congress staged dharnas and later, submitted a memorandum addressed to President Ramnath Kovind at the Raj Bhawan.

Governor Ganga Prasad is currently not in Shillong.

"As a mark of protest, the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee is organising statewide dharnas to protest this blatantly partisan and authoritarian act of the governor of Karnataka," MPPC president Celestine Lyngdoh said in a petition to the governor.

3. Governor appoints BJP"s KG Bopaiah as Pro-tem speaker: By convention, the Pro Tem Speaker is usually the senior most MLA in the House. However, Governor Vajubhai Vale has appointed BJP's KG Bopaiah, a three-time MLA, as the Pro-tem speaker. The Congress has objected to the governor's decision and said that the convention should have been followed. served as Speaker from Nov 2009 to 2013 KG Bopaiah, who was appointed by the governor to conduct a floor test, has been a three-time MLA. He was appointed Speaker on 17 November 2009 and he served till October 2013. In 2011 he oversaw the floor test for BS Yeddyurappa government and had disqualified all MLAs who had rebelled against Yedyurappa. His decision was upheld by Karnataka HC but overturned by Supreme Court. The apex court had castigated him for "hastily" disqualifying 16 MLAs to enable BS Yedyurappa to win the trust vote in October 2011. "Unless it was to ensure that the trust vote did not go against the CM, there was no conceivable reason for the Speaker to have taken up the disqualification application in such a great hurry," the Times of India had reported at the time, quoting the SC order. 4. Congress' double standards towards judiciary exposed, says BJP: The BJP on Friday hit out at the Congress, sayine the party's "double standards" towards the judiciary has been exposed as it was now praising the Supreme Court after insulting it and also attempting to impeach the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

"The party that had tried to impeach the CJI is now all praises for him and its leader Rahul Gandhi, who is praising the Supreme Court today, used Pakistan as an analogy yesterday," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, reported PTI.

Patra was responding to Gandhi's remarks in which he welcomed today's Supreme Court order to conduct a floor test in the Karnataka assembly at 4 PM tomorrow, drastically slashing the 15-day window given by Governor Vajubhai Vala to BJP Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to prove majority.

He also referred to the Congress president's yesterday remark that the judiciary and the press were under "fear" and that usually happens in Pakistan under "dictatorship".

5. Tejashwi Yadav stakes claim to form Bihar govt: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, accompanied by Congress, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), and CPI(ML) leaders, called on Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik on Friday, and staked claim to form government in Bihar. ALSO READ: Tejashwi Yadav meets Bihar governor, stakes claim to form govt During the meeting with the Governor, Yadav demanded that RJD, being the single largest party in the state and also constituting the single largest pre-poll alliance, should be invited to form government. "We met the Governor and submitted a memorandum stating that we have support of 111 MLAs, those of my own party as well as our allies -- the Congress and the Hindustani Awam Morcha -- besides CPI(ML). We said that we have 111 MLAs together and if we are asked for floor test, we are confident of winning, as more legislators are likely to vote in our favour," he told reporters outside the Raj Bhavan. Yadav, who is the Opposition Leader in the Assembly, said, "The point we are trying to make is that there has to be one rule in the country. If the Karnataka Governor's decision to invite the BJP on the ground of it being the single largest party was proper, then the same yardstick should be applied to Bihar. The RJD, by virtue of its being the single largest party in the state, should be allowed to form government here." The RJD was relegated to the Opposition in Bihar last year after the JD(U) walked away from the three-party alliance, which also involved the Congress, and joined hands with the BJP to form a new government under Nitish Kumar. In the 243-member Bihar Assembly, the RJD is the single-largest party with 80 MLAs, while JD(U) has 71 legislators and the BJP has 53. NDA constituent LJP and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party have two seats each.

The Congress has 27 MLAs. Manipur Congress stakes claim to form govt: A Congress delegation in Manipur on Friday staked claim to form government in the state. The move comes following the political upheaval in Karnataka. Nine leaders of the Congress Legislature Party, led by the Opposition Leader in the Manipur Assembly and former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, met Acting Governor Jagdish Mukhi at Raj Bhavan in Imphal around noon and staked claim to form government. ALSO READ: Manipur Cong meets acting guv, stakes claim to form govt The Congress had bagged 28 seats in the 60-member House in the 2017 Assembly polls and emerged as the single-largest party. The BJP, which secured 21 seats, had joined hands with regional parties and Governor Najma Heptulla had invited the coalition to form the government. Cong stakes claim to form govt in Goa: The Congress on Friday sought the adoption of the Karnataka example in Goa and, being the single largest party in the Legislative Assembly, staked its claim to form the government in the state. The Congress Legislative Party, led by Chandrakant Kavlekar, met Governor Mridula Sinha at the Raj Bhavan in Panaji around noon and submitted a letter seeking an invite to the party to prove its majority on the floor of the House. ALSO READ: Karnataka verdict fallout: Now, Congress stakes claim to form govt in Goa The party said it gave the Governor seven days to decide on its request. Fourteen of the 16 Congress legislators were present during the meeting with Governor as one of them is out of the country, while another one is hospitalised. The meeting lasted for about 15 minutes. "We requested the governor to follow the precedent of Karnataka and undo the mistake she had committed on March 12, 2017, when she invited the minority party (BJP) to form the government," Kavlekar said, adding, "We have given a time of seven days to revert to us on our request." In the Assembly elections held in February last year, the Congress had bagged 17 seats in the 40-member House, but it fell short of the majority figure by four seats. The BJP, which had bagged 13 seats, firmed up an alliance with Goa Forward Party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, both of which had secured three seats each, and also took support of three Independents. Subsequently, the Governor invited the BJP-led coalition to form the government. The present dispensation is headed by Manohar Parrikar, who is currently undergoing treatment in the US for a pancreatic ailment. 6. BJP's bluff in Karnataka called out by SC, says Rahul Gandhi: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who extensively campaigned in Karnataka, termed the Supreme Court order for a floor test in the state a vindication of the party's stand that the governor had acted "unconstitutionally". Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said the court had called out BJP's "bluff" of forming a government even without the numbers and alleged that the party would now resort to using money and muscle power to "steal" the mandate. ALSO READ: BJP's bluff called out by court: Rahul Gandhi on SC floor test order "Today's Supreme Court order, vindicates our stand that Governor Vajubhai Vala acted unconstitutionally," he said on Twitter. He also said that the BJP had been stopped legally from forming its government as it did not have the required numbers. "The BJP's bluff that it will form the Government., even without the numbers, has been called out by the court. Stopped legally, they will now try money and muscle, to steal the mandate," he said. 7. Congress leader confident Yeddyurappa government will be ousted in 24 hours: Apart from Gandhi, other Congress leaders also hailed the apex court's order. Congress leader Ashwani Kumar told news agencies that the apex court judgment had vindicated the faith of the people in the wisdom of the court. "The Supreme Court verdict has upheld constitutional morality and democracy. It is a judgment that should be celebrated. The faith of people in the wisdom of the court is vindicated once again. It's set back for a party that wanted to usurp power," Ashwani said. ALSO READ: SC floor test order upheld Constitutional morality: Congress Another Congress leader, P C Chacko, termed Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's invitation to the BJP to form a government in the state as "unconstitutional". Further, he said, "What happened in Karnataka was wrong and unconstitutional and it was not cancelled, that is our worry. But to a limited extent, we are happy that the floor test is taking place tomorrow and we are sure that B S Yeddyurappa government will be ousted within 24 hours." ALSO READ: Grateful to SC for interim verdict on floor test: Abhishek Manu Singhvi Singhvi also said that the court has asked the Yeddyurappa government to not take any major policy decisions until the floor test is over. "It is a historic interim order because the court has directed a confidence motion in less than 24 hours. The order is subjected to safeguards stating members of the Anglo Indian Community cannot be nominated, and Yeddyurappa conceded through his counsel that he cannot have any major policy decisions. Also, security has been provided, and a regular speaker will swear in everyone before the vote of confidence at 4," Singhvi said. The apex court has agreed to hear the matter after 10 weeks, Singhvi said. Further, attacking the BJP, Singhvi said, "The BJP clearly does not have the grounds to stake claim to form the government, the letters disclosed by BJP today does not have any ground based on which they claim to form the government." 8. BJP Karnataka unit says 'bring it on'; Javdekar confident of winning trust vote In Karnataka: The BJP, across the spectrum, appeared to be confident and ready for Saturday's trial. Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javdekar on Friday said BJP was confident of winning the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly. "BJP is ready and confident of winning trust vote In Karnataka. We will prove our majority on the floor of the House," Javdekar said in a tweet.

ALSO READ: BJP confident of winning floor test in Karnataka: Javadekar After the Supreme Court's direction, the BJP's Karnataka unit on Friday tweeted the party was "ready to prove majority from the word go". It added that party had "more than the required number to sail through the floor test". In one of its tweets, it said, "We are looking forward to proving our mandate tomorrow. To all those doubting the strength of our mandate, we just have one thing to say: Wait and watch." Further, in another tweet, the BJP state unit said that it was "absolutely sure" of the party's numbers and would "decisively prove" its majority on the floor of the House. "If people's mandate has to be vindicated again, so be it. Bring it on!" it added. 9. Yeddyurappa asserts 100 per cent confidence in winning floor test: Welcoming the Supreme Court order for a floor test, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, the man in the centre of the political turmoil and with the most to lose, asserted that he was "100 per cent" confident that he would prove his majority in the state Assembly. "We will abide by the Supreme Court verdict... We have got 100 per cent support and cooperation to prove the majority," Yeddyurappa told reporters soon after the apex court's order. ALSO READ: Hundred per cent confident of proving majority: Yeddyurappa "Amid all these political games, we will prove our majority tomorrow. We will obey the Supreme Court order," said Yeddyurappa, who faces an uphill task rustling up the 112 MLAs required to cross the floor test hurdle. 10. SC directs floor test in Karnataka tomorrow at 4 pm, rejects Yeddyurappa's plea for secret ballot: The Supreme Court on Friday directed a floor test on Saturday to ascertain the support to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa in the 224-member Assembly and barred him from taking any policy decisions until then. Directing the floor test at 4 pm, a Bench of Justice A K Sikri, Justice S A Bobde, and Justice Ashok Bhushan on Friday said the pro tem speaker, the seniormost member of the Assembly, would administer the newly-elected members their oath and then conduct the floor test. The court rejected Yeddyurappa's plea, made through senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, asking for a week's time to face the floor test. The court also junked Attorney General K K Venugopal's suggestion that the floor test be conducted through secret ballot.

First Published: Fri, May 18 2018. 18:47 IST