The BJP is not in a hurry to stake claim to form the government as the fate of 17 rebel MLAs, who are from the Congress-JD(S) coalition, besides an Independent, hangs in the balance with the Speaker yet to take a call on either their resignations or plea to disqualify them.
Suspense over government formation by the BJP in Karnataka continued Thursday two days after the Congress-JDS coalition ministry fell with all attention now riveted on the Assembly Speaker’s move on the resignations by rebel MLAs and plea for their disqualification. As it looked to the central leadership to take a shot at government formation, the BJP camp here was devoid of any major activity barring internal meetings held by party state unit chief B S Yeddyurappa, who is waiting in the wings for a fourth term as chief minister.
A group of Karnataka BJP leaders, including Jagdish Shettar, Arvind Limbavali, J C Madhuswamy, Basavaraj Bommai and Yeddyurappa’s son Vijayendra, met party chief Amit Shah in New Delhi and reportedly discussed the government formation. Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, who is yet to decide on the resignation and disqualification of the rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs, said he would use his discretion and uphold the faith the Supreme Court has placed in him. He said there was no further opportunity for the rebel MLAs to appear before him and it was a closed chapter now, adding, “law is same for everyone whether it is a labourer or President of India.”
“Yes..the court has left to my discretion (to decide on resignation), I have discretion, I will work accordingly and will uphold the faith that the Supreme Court has expressed in me,” Kumar said. Stating that there was no more option for MLAs to appear before him, he said that process was over. “I had called them and they did not come, their lawyers had come and have said what they had to, it is a closed chapter,” he added.
The BJP is not in a hurry to stake claim to form the government as the fate of 17 rebel MLAs, who are from the Congress-JD(S) coalition, besides an Independent, hangs in the balance with the Speaker yet to take a call on either their resignations or plea to disqualify them. Not specifying on the next course of action, Kumar in response to a question said, when MLAs resign according to article 190 (3)(b) and 35th amendment to the Constitution, the Speaker can call them for inquiry. “I had called, they did not appear, that’s all,” he said. Asked if he would be issuing another notice to MLAs, he said, “don’t I have any work…I had given once, they didn’t come, there ends the matter. Law is same for every one from a labourer to President to me, there is no separate constitution to every one.”
A delegation of senior BJP leaders had met the Speaker Wednesday to discuss the finance bill that has to be passed by the assembly before July 31. Responding to a question on BJP meeting him, Kumar said, “they had come–today date is 25 (July), by 31st if we don’t pass the Finance bill government will come to a standstill and we will not be in a position to even pay salaries, such a necessity has come, what to do?” “I have said, as soon as the government is formed and whenever those forming the government say the assembly should be convened, within 48 hours we will call a session, so thatthe work can go on,” he added.
The anti-defection law doesn’t specify a time-period for the Speaker to decide on disqualification plea. A disqualified member loses seat and the punitive action forestalls prospects of becoming a minister in the newly sworn in government but he or she can get re-elected to the House. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in its order on Wednesday gave the Assembly Speaker the freedom to decide on the resignation of the 15 MLAs within such time-frame as considered appropriate by him.
The 14-month-old Congress-JDS coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy collapsed on Tuesday after losing the vote of confidence in the assembly in a climax to the three-week long intense power struggle. Rebel Congress MLA Shivaram Hebbar who arrived from Mumbai, where the disgruntled lawmakers were holed up, at his residence in Yellapura of Uttara Kananda district expressed confidence that the speaker who is a senior and experienced person will take right decision on our resignation.
Speaking to local news channels, he said “we (rebel MLAs) are not disgruntled, we are helpless. As no one came to help us we came out.” Stating that there was no change in their decision, Hebbar said he and other rebel legislators stand by their decision (of resigning). “There is no change in it.” Responding to a question, he said, he does not fear about disqualification and will face it.
“There are laws and rules, recently Umesh Jadhav’s resignation as MLA was accepted. I believe in the judiciary and speaker’s justice,” he said, adding that they will take decision on their political future only after resignations are accepted. Karnataka caretaker Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said no one can give a stable government in the state in the present political scene. Kumaraswamy said the resignations by the rebel MLAs of the Congress-JDS coalition had pushed the state towards by-elections.
“Whether you focus on the developmental activities or the by-elections at 20 to 25 places, an atmosphere created by the BJP? We cannot assume that the government will remain stable even after the elections,” Kumaraswamy told reporters. Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah rubbished reports he had instigated the rebels to resign and destabilise the coalition government. Cautioning media houses against peddling “false news”, Siddaramaiah said he would give them a befiting reply if they repeat the allegation in front of him. In a series of tweets, the Congress strongman in Karnataka said the rebels were trying to “shift the blame on me but the facts would surface once the dust settles.”
Siddaramaiah meanwhile held discussions with some senior party leaders and told them that it was not easy for BJP to form the government and sustain for long as dissidence will emerge there too, because they will have to make room for rebel MLAs who have resigned. According to sources, Siddaramaiah has said, if the government is not formed by July 30 there will be political uncertainty in the state, which may pave the way for mid-term polls, and asked leaders to focus towards facing the elections that may happen.