Deepening the political crisis in Karnataka, Governor Vajubhai Vala's 1.30 pm deadline Friday for chief minister H D Kumaraswamy to prove his majority ended without the assembly taking up the voting on the motion of confidence to decide the fate of his shaky government.
As the deadline neared, the ruling coalition vociferously questioned the governor's power to issue such a direction, with Kumaraswamy citing a Supreme Court verdict that a governor cannot act as ombudsman of the legislature.
Kumaraswamy said he would not criticise the governor and requested Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to decide whether the governor can set a deadline.
As the assembly clock struck 1.30 pm, the BJP insisted on a division on the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy Thursday in accordance with the letter by the governor to him.
The House was then adjourned till 3 pm amid ruckus with both BJP and Congress members locked in heated exchanges over the governor's role.
Vala had Thursday set the 1.30 pm deadline for proving the majority within hours after the voting on the confidence motion could not take place with the Speaker adjourning the day's proceedings in the assembly.
The Governor in his letter to the Chief Minister had observed resignation of 15 MLAs of the ruling JD(S)-Congress and withdrawal of support by two independents "prima facie" indicated Kumaraswamy had lost confidence of the House.
After the assembly resumed its sitting Friday morning and as the deadline approached, BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa stood up and pressed for division on the confidence motion and his party insisted that Kumaraswamy should make it clear whether he would obey the governor's directive or not.
The Speaker said there was a process to be followed and the motion would be put to vote, if pressed for, according to rules after discussion.
He also reminded BJP members that until the discussion, they cannot press for division.
"I have nothing... I will follow the rules... as far governor's order, it for the chief minister to respond," he said.
Senior ministers R V Deshpande and Krishna Byre Gowda asserted that once the motion was moved, it was the property of the House and no one can insist to do things in a specific way.
Senior BJP member Madhuswamy said the governor has the Constitutional right to ask the chief minister to prove his majority if he has any doubts about it. "We don't want to violate the governor's order."
Amid pandemonium, Congress members accused the BJP of misusing the governor's office to conspire against the government and shouted slogans, "Go back governor."
Earlier, as the House reassembled after an overnight drama that saw BJP members camping in the assembly to protest against the House not taking up the voting, the speaker asked Kumaraswamy to speak on the debate on the confidence motion.
Making it clear that there was no scope for any other discussion except the trust vote, the speaker also dismissed suggestions that he was trying to delay the vote on the confidence motion.
"I don't have to be partisan," Kumar said, expressing anguish over suggestions that he was trying to delay the trust vote.
Kumaraswamy mounted a scathing attack on the BJP accusing it of offering Rs 40-50 crore bribe to the ruling coalition legislators to lure them away and bring down his government.
He charged that an atmosphere was created from day one that "this government will go" and it was unstable.
"After 14 months (in power), we have come to the final stage," Kumaraswamy said.
"Let's have discussion. You can still form government. Nothing urgent. You can do it on Monday or Tuesday also. I am not going to misuse power," Kumaraswamy told BJP.
He further said: "...from the day I came to power, I know it won't be for long... how long you will sit in power, I am here to see...how stable your government will be with the people who are now helping you," he said.
He was making an apparent reference to the 15 dissident Congress and JDS MLAs whose resignations from the assembly has triggered the present crisis.
Allegations of bribery flew thick and fast as the debate progressed with the ruling coalition ministers and members targetting the BJP for its alleged toppling game.
"Legislators were offered Rs 40-50 crore to lure them; whose money is it?" asked Kumaraswamy hitting out at BJP even as the opposition party members remained unruffled apparently to ensure there was no disorder that would disturb voting.
JDS MLA Srinivas Gowda alleged he was offered Rs 5 crore bribe by BJP to defect to bring down government.
Minister Sa Ra Mahesh alleged Vishwanath (JDS former state president) had told him that he needs money as he has election-related loan of Rs 28 crore.
Krishna Byre Gowda alleged hundreds of crores of Rupees were being pumped in to bring down the government.
In his speech, Kumaraswamy accused BJP of resorting to ways to circumvent the anti-defection law.
Kumaraswamy asked BJP why it is in a hurry to end the trust vote debate in one day if it was sure of its numbers.
"Why is the BJP in a hurry, if they have the numbers... why the hurry to end the debate in one day.... I know it is not easy to get your MLAs," Kumaraswamy said looking towards Yeddyurappa.