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Kumaraswamy moves confidence motion, high drama marks debate

Press Trust of India  |  Bengaluru 

Marked by a high drama, the Karnataka assembly Thursday took up the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to decide the fate of the Congress-JDS government wracked by depleted numbers after rebellion by a section of ruling coalition MLAs.

The drama unfolded right from the word go as, facing a truncated strength caused by the en masse resignation of 16 ruling coalition MLAs, Kumaraswamy moved a one-line motion, saying the House expressed confidence in the 14-month old ministry headed by him.

A total of 20 lawmakers did not turn up Thursday, including 17 from the ruling coalition, 12 of whom are corralled in a hotel in Mumbai, as the House debated in a surcharged atmosphere with two adjournments amid pandemonium.

Adding to the worries of the ruling coalition, another Congress MLA Shreemant Patil was not seen in the House, amid reports he has been admitted in a Mumbai hospital.

At one point, Congress members carrying pictures of Patil trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans "Down Down BJP" and "down down operation Kamala (lotus)" to bring down the government.

BSP MLA Mahesh, on whose support the coalition was counting, also did not show up, amid reports he was keeping away as he has not received any directions from the party leader Mayawati on the stand to be taken on the trust vote.

Seeking the trust vote, Kumaraswamy said the rebel MLAs had cast doubts about the coalition government across the country and "we have to tell the truth."

"The entire nation is watching the developments unfolding in Karnataka," he said.

As soon as the motion was moved, opposition BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa stood up and said the trust vote process should be completed in a single day.

"The Leader of Opposition seems to be in a hurry," Kumaraswamy taunted Yeddyurappa.

As the chief minister sought the trust vote, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah pressed for deferring the confidence motion till the assembly speaker decided on the issue of whip in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict on the political crisis in the state.

Siddaramaiah said the 15 rebel MLAs were influenced by the apex court order that they can abstain from attending the assembly proceedings and asked speaker to give a ruling on the fate of whip issued by him as CLP leader.

If this motion is taken up, then it will not be constitutional. It violates the constitutional provisions. I request you to defer it. I want your ruling on this point of order," Siddaramaiah told Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar.

The speaker then said he would consult the advocate general and adjourned the House for lunch.

With the chief minister yet to make his speech on the motion till evening, the House went about discussing the issue of the whip, amid acrimony between the treasury benches and BJP members on the political turmoil in the state.

Sensing an alleged attempt to delay the vote,BJP rushed a delegation to meet governor Vajubhai Vala to direct the speaker to conclude the trust vote process Thursday itself.

Acting swiftly, the governor asked the speaker to complete the process of vote of confidence moved by the end of the day.

In his message, he said, "The motion of confidence moved by the chief minister of Karnataka is in consideration before the House today. The chief minister is expected to maintain the confidence of the House at all times during his tenure.

I, therefore, send this message to the House to consider completing the proceedings of the House by the end of the day."


Vala's message under Article 175 of the constitution added that completing the proceedings by the end of the way will uphold the highest traditions of democracy and parliamentary practice.

The speaker read out the message and said "I have brought it to the notice of the House."

The House also was rocked by trading of charges after the Congress alleged that its MLA Shreemant Patil, who suddenly disappeared after being with them at a resort and went incommunicado, had been 'kidnapped' as part of efforts to 'topple' the coalition government.

The Congress MLAs said in unison that the lawmakers were living in fear and Patil was kidnapped, kept in a room, taken by a special flight and then admitted to a hospital.

Senior minister D K Shivakumar said they would produce documents to show that Patil was forcibly admitted to the hospital to skip assembly.

BJP members made their displeasure known several times over alleged delay in taking up the voting on the confidence motion, which at one point led to heated exchanges between the speaker and senior BJP member Madhuswamy, leading to adjournment of the House for half an hour.

Congress and BJP MLAs, who were sequestered in resorts in the city fearing poaching by the rival camps, were herded together and brought in buses just before the assembly began.

"I don't know what their party (coalition partners Congress and JD-S) is going to do but we are 105.They will be less than 100. Hundred per cent we are confident that the confidence motion will be defeated," Yeddyurappa earlier said.

The trial of strength is taking place a day after the Supreme Court ruled that the 15 rebel Congress-JDS MLAs "ought not" to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the state Assembly.

Armed with the court order, the rebel Congress-JDS MLAs camping in Mumbai have said there was no question of stepping back on their resignations or attending the session.

As many as 16 MLAs -- 13 from the Congress and three from JDS -- have resigned, while independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh have withdrawn their support to the coalition government, putting the Kumaraswamy-led government in jitters.

The ruling combine's strength is 117-- Congress 78, JD(S) 37, BSP 1, and nominated 1, besides the Speaker.

With the support of the two independents, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 225-member House, including the nominated MLA and Speaker.

If the resignations of 15 MLAs (12 from Congress and 3 from JDS) are accepted, the ruling coalition's tally will plummet to 101, (excluding the Speaker) reducing the 14 month-old Kumaraswamy government to a minority.

This is the third motion on trust vote in the assembly after the 2018 assembly polls yielded a fractured mandate with the BJP emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats but failing to mobilise numbers.

Yeddyurappa had resigned as chief minister after being in office for three days before facing the trust vote in May last year.

Kumaraswamy who succeeded him had won the trust vote after forming the coalition government.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, July 18 2019. 18:40 IST
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