Karnataka trust vote likely on Monday; Cong-JDS struggles to win back rebels

Bengaluru, July 21

The fate of the fragile H D Kumaraswamy led Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka is likely to be decided on the floor of the assembly on Monday after it defied on July 19 the two deadlines set by Governor Vajubhai Vala to prove majority after a raft of resignations by rebel MLAs.

Amid reports that the government was still trying to prolong the discussion on the confidence motion moved by the Chief Minister on Thursday, hoping for some kind of relief from the Supreme Court, the ruling coalition was making last-ditch efforts to win back unrelenting rebel lawmakers.

Kumaraswamy and the Congress had moved the Supreme Court on Friday, accusing the Governor of interfering with the Assembly proceedings when the debate on the trust vote was underway and sought clarification on its July 17 order, which they said, caused hindrance in issuing whip to the legislators.

The assembly was adjourned till Monday after the Governor’s 1.30 pm deadline and the second one to conclude the confidence motion process by Friday itself was ignored, prolonging the climax to the ceaseless power struggle that has been on for the last three weeks and which threatens to blow into a constitutional crisis.

As the first deadline neared on Friday, 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.

The Governor’s second missive was dismissed as a “love letter” by Kumaraswamy, who criticised Vala for talking about horse-trading now “when it had been happening” for the last several days.

However, before adjourning the House on Friday, Speaker Ramesh Kumar extracted a “commitment” from the coalition that the motion of confidence would reach finality on Monday, even as he made it clear that it would not be prolonged further under any circumstances.

With discussion on the confidence motion yet to be completed after treasury benches insisted that Ramesh Kumar allow its long list of speakers to voice their feelings, questions are still being raised in political circles over whether voting on the confidence motion will happen Monday also and whether the government will keep up its promise, by not delaying the process further.

If the ruling coalition tries to delay the proceedings on Monday also, all eyes will be on the next move by the Governor, who has been keeping the Centre posted on the unfolding drama in the state.

The “delay” in completing the trust vote process was seen as an attempt by the ruling coalition aimed at buying time to woo back rebel MLAs, hunkered down in Mumbai to protect them from poaching by the ruling coalition, whose resignation has pushed the government to the brink of collapse.

According to sources, attempts were made in this regard, but it did not yield much results as rebel MLAs, claiming that 13 of them were together, have made it clear that they are firm on their resignation and there was no question of going back.

This firm decision by the rebels has made it increasingly difficult for the Congress-JD(S) coalition to woo them back and get the requisite numbers to sail through in the assembly.

BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa Sunday exuded faith that Monday would be the last day of the Kumaraswamy led coalition government.

“As Siddaramaiah, Speaker and Kumaraswamy have said they will seek majority on Monday, I am 100 per cent confident that things will reach a conclusion.

I am confident that tomorrow is the last day of the Kumaraswamy government,” Yeddyurappa told reporters here.

He alleged that the ruling coalition was unnecessarily passing their time despite knowing well that whip issued against the ruling coalition MLAs was of no use.

“The SC has clearly said in its order that under no circumstances should the 15 MLAs staying in Mumbai be compelled to attend the current assembly session.

It has clearly stated that it is left to them (MLAs) whether they want to attend it or not,” the former chief minister said.

He emphasised that whip has no value in such a situation, which the ruling party leaders too know.

Meanwhile, BJP has left no stone unturned to keep its flock together ahead of the trust vote by herding its MLAs to a resort and has decided to wait and watch till Monday about the coalition and the Speaker’s commitment to complete the trust vote.

If the floor test is further delayed, it will worsen the political logjam, compelling BJP to approach the Governor and even move the apex Court for intervention, party sources said.

On the CM failing to prove majority on the floor of the House during the trust vote on Monday, Kumaraswamy will have to tender the resignation, following which the procedure to form an alternative government will be kickstarted.

Yeddyurappa has already claimed that the Congress-JD(S) coalition had just 98 legislators and it has lost majority, while the BJP led by him, with 106 MLAs, was in a comfortable position to form an alternative government.

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

One Congress member Ramalinga Reddy retracted, saying he would support the government.

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 three from JDS) are accepted or if they stay away, the ruling coalition’s tally will plummet to 101, (excluding the Speaker) reducing the government to a minority.

The coalition strength would fall further to 98 as claimed by Yeddyurappa, as two Congress MLAs are unlikely to attend due to health reasons, while BSP MLA Mahesh, is not showing 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.

BJPs strength is also likely to come down to 106, as Shankar who has extended support to the saffron party will not attend the session, according to sources, fearing poaching by Congress as Speaker has not accepted his request for his seating arrangement along with opposition. — PTI 

RELATED Yedi wins trust vote in Karnataka Assembly; Speaker resigns