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Karnataka floor test deferred amid high drama, BJP plans night-long protest

20 MLAs didn't turn up; Assembly sleepover for BJP members in protest of the delay

Archis Mohan & PTI  |  New Delhi/Bengaluru 

HD Kumaraswamy, Karnataka CM
HD Kumaraswamy

The Karnataka Assembly, which took up the trust vote moved by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Thursday, was adjourned until Friday morning after a day of high drama, which involved 20 legislators of the ruling coalition not turning up in the House. These 20 MLAs included the 12 currently staying at a hotel in Mumbai.

Governor Vajubhai Vala’s advice earlier in the day to Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to complete the trust vote process by Thursday evening went unheeded as Deputy Speaker Krishna Reddy adjourned the Assembly for the day amid incessant slogan-shouting by Congress legislators.

While Kumaraswamy is yet to speak on the motion, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said all his party legislators would stay at the Assembly until the trust vote was decided. He said this was to protest the “breach of the constitutional framework” as ruling coalition legislators did not allow a proper discussion on the trust vote even for 15 minutes.

In New Delhi, the Congress questioned Wednesday’s Supreme Court order that the 15 rebel legislators “ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings” of the Assembly. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the SC order has nullified his party’s authority to issue and enforce a whip, which violates its rights under Schedule X of the Constitution.

In the morning, Kumaraswamy moved a one-line confidence motion stating that the House expressed confidence in his 14-month old government. He said the entire nation was watching the developments unfolding in Karnataka.

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah pressed for deferring the confidence motion until the Speaker decided on the issue of whip in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict. The Speaker said he would consult the advocate general and adjourned the House for lunch. While the House discussed the issue of the whip, a BJP delegation met the governor to direct the Speaker to conclude the trust vote process on Thursday itself, which he subsequently did.

Congress MLA Shreemant Patil remained absent from the House amid reports he had been admitted to a Mumbai hospital. Senior minister D K Shivakumar said the Congress would produce documents to show that Patil was forcibly admitted to the hospital to skip the Assembly.

Bahujan Samaj Party MLA N Mahesh, who was likely to support the coalition, also did not show up. Sources said Mahesh was yet to get any instruction from party chief Mayawati.

The chances of the survival of the government looked slim. The BJP has 104 MLAs, and support of three more, including a nominated member and two independents in the 225-member Assembly. If the resignations of the 15 MLAs (12 from Congress and 3 from the Janata Dal-Secular) are accepted, or they do not turn up, the ruling coalition's tally will reduce to 101, (excluding the Speaker), reducing the 14 month-old Kumaraswamy government to a minority.

First Published: Thu, July 18 2019. 23:34 IST