The new Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa was today ordered by the Supreme Court to face a floor test in the state Assembly tomorrow itself after it drastically reduced the 15-day deadline set by the governor for him to prove his majority.
As the apex court fixed the time for the floor test at 4pm, the numbers were stacked against the BJP barring any defections or making MLAs of the rival JD(S)-Congress combine to resign or abstain from voting for it to get majority in the bitter struggle for power mired in allegations of bribery.
The BJP has emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, followed by the Congress with 78, JD(S) with 37 and three seats have gone to others in the 224-member Assembly where elections were held for 222 seats. The BJP is short by 8 seats.
As the BJP and the Congress-JD(S) alliance geared up for the expected showdown confident the outcome will be in their favour, another legal battle was on the cards over the appointment of BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as the pro-tem speaker by Governor Vajubhai Vala. Usually the senior-most member of the Assembly is appointed making Congress' R V Deshpande qualified for the post.
"We will abide by the Supreme Court verdict...we have got100 per cent support and cooperation to prove the majority," Yeddyurappa, who took the oath of office yesterday, told reporters in Bengaluru shortly after the apex court's order. The 75-year-old Lingayat strongman, who was given 15 days time to prove his majority on the floor of the House, faces an uphill task to shore up the numbers.
On the other hand, JD(S) chief and the rival camp's chief ministerial candidate H D Kumaraswamy said he had "complete faith" in the MLAs of the alliance and would defeat the motion of vote of confidence with the "blessings and support" of Congress leaders.
"All of us are together," said Siddaramaiah.
Basavaraj said as many as 36 legislators belonging to the JD(S) and 77 of the Congress are currently camping in the hotels.
"Let the House decide and the best course would be floor test," said a three-judge apex court bench headed by Justice A K Sikri.
The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, turned down Yeddyurappa's request for a secret ballot during the floor test.
The bench asked the newly elected government not to take any major policy decision till it proves majority in the House.
It made it clear that it would deal with the constitutionality of the Governor's letter inviting Yeddyurappa to form the government later.
The top court said the pro-tem speaker will take decisions in accordance with the law on the issue of floor test and ordered the authorities, including the Director General of Police, to ensure law and order outside the state Assembly.
The bench said ultimately the question is about majority which has to be proved in the floor test.
The majority mark is 112 seats and the post-poll alliance strength of the Congress-JD(S) combine, which claims to have 117 MLAs, has alleged foul play in the Governor inviting BJP to form the government.
During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the BJP and Yeddyurappa, sought reasonable time till Monday for the floor test but the bench ordered for tomorrow.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the rival combine, said the question is whether the Governor was correct to call the party which has less numbers than the alliance which has the majority, has to be tested upon.
Rohatgi told the bench that there was no pre-poll alliance between the Congress and JD(S) and they have formed an "unholy alliance" after the elections.
The bench gave clear-cut four-step instructions for holding the floor test for ascertaining the majority or otherwise of the Yedyurappa government.
It enumerated the four steps that have to be followed for holding the floor test, directing the immediate appointment of the pro-tem Speaker, holding the oath ceremony for all elected members tomorrow. This exercise has to be completed before 4 PM when the floor test will be held to ascertain the majority.
Hailing the court order as historic, the Congress accused the BJP of being baffled and frustrated as it lacks numbers to prove majority and objected to appointment of the BJP MLA as pro-tem speaker. The Congress-JD (S) combine is contemplating challenging the appointment before the Supreme Court.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)