Bangalore/New Delhi: The failure of rebels to obtain immediate relief from the high court has emboldened chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to seek a fresh trust vote on 14 October, as directed by governor H.R. Bhardwaj, in an assembly that excludes the expelled legislators.
Testing times: Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa (centre) with party MLAs at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday, a day after he won the vote of confidence in the state assembly amid pandemonium. PTI
The move came after the high court reserved its order on the disqualification of the 16 legislators—11 rebels and five independents. This meant that status quo would prevail and the disqualified legislators would be barred from participating in the trust vote; the 224-member assembly will hence be reduced to 208.
With the BJP requiring 105 votes to win a majority, Yeddyurappa is likely to win the trust vote on Thursday, although it would be subject to the eventual ruling of the high court. After the expulsions, the BJP’s strength in the house is 106, including the speaker, who has a casting vote in case of a tie.
“As per the letter sent by the governor, we are convening a special session on 14 October at 11am. I am confident that we will again win the trust vote as we did on 11 October and provide a stable government for the rest of the five-year term for which we were elected,” Yeddyurappa said after a party meeting at the residence of BJP leader L.K. Advani.
The opposition Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) combine has 102 members in the lower house of the assembly.
The Karnataka high court, which heard the petition by 11 rebel BJP legislators on Tuesday, reserved its order and postponed the hearing of five independent legislators that questioned the speaker’s decision to disqualify them under the anti-defection law.
It came on a day when Bhardwaj, in a surprise move, asked the Yeddyurappa-led government to prove its majority afresh on the floor of the assembly by 14 October.
Tuesday’s developments are expected to give the beleaguered chief minister, who has been constantly battling dissidence in his state unit, a moral victory.
But “the victory may be shortlived if the high court does not uphold the speaker’s decision,” said Valerian Rodrigues, professor of political science in Delhi-based Jawaharalal Nehru University.
On Monday, the BJP government claimed victory in a contentious trust vote, which saw 16 legislators being disqualified by speaker K.G. Bopaiah. The speaker said the government had won 106 to zero through a voice vote.
The governor has apparently sent his recommendation to the Union government for the imposition of President’s rule, keeping the assembly in suspended animation.
The Central government seems to have decided to wait and watch the political developments in the southern state.
“The governor’s report recommending President’s rule in Karnataka will be in abeyance till 14 October,” said a home ministry official, requesting anonymity. “The Centre is not acting in a hurry, but taking note of the events that took place during the state assembly proceedings on 11 October.”
BJP leader Arun Jaitely blamed the governor for the chaos and demanded that the Congress-led Central government immediately recall him.
Experts also criticized the governor’s decision. “The situation in Karnataka hovers in indecision that has been made worse with the partisan attitude of the governor,” advocate Rajiv Dhawan said.
“The governor’s action was too complicated, taken in a haste without taking the imponderable into consideration,” Rodrigues said.
Sahil Makkar contributed to this story.