Two deadlines set by governor Vajubhai Vala lapsed on Friday with the Karnataka assembly set to resume the debate on a confidence motion on Monday, but not before hearing the governor acknowledge widespread “allegations of horse-trading".
The debate continued for the second consecutive day with the ruling coalition and Opposition trading allegations, postponing the trust vote that will determine the fate of the over 13-month-old coalition government headed by chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
The stalemate appeared to inch toward a Constitutional crisis with governor Vala unsuccessfully trying to intervene, but officially acknowledging political malpractice.
“When the allegations of horse-trading are widely made and, I am receiving many such complaints, it is constitutionally imperative that the floor test be completed without any delay and today (Friday) itself," Vala wrote in a letter to Kumaraswamy.
But his deadlines of 1.30pm and 6.00pm came and went as allegations of abduction, illegal confinement, criminal intimidation and attempts to purchase legislators with crores of rupees and offers of cabinet berths dominated the discussions.
Assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar said he will permit all the allegations made by legislators of the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition, as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to go into the record, because “all the filth should come out" before the people.
Congress leader D.K.Shivakumar alleged that several coalition legislators were being illegally detained and threatened by the BJP to vote against the government and asked the Speaker to provide them protection.
The Congress had alleged that one of its legislator, Srimant Balasaheb Patil, had been kidnapped by the BJP. Speaker Kumar, however, read out an email, purportedly sent by Patil, informing him (the speaker) of his absence and dismissing reports that he had been kidnapped.
The ruling coalition said the governor had no business to intervene in the discussions in the state assembly and insisted that its members be allowed to speak before the vote is taken up.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar, too, said he was not bound by the governor’s letters to the chief minister, but asked the coalition to conclude the discussions as he was being targeted for allegedly delaying the trust vote.
Kumaraswamy promised to complete the debate by Monday, which did not please the BJP members, who have been waiting for another chance to form the government with the possibility of 16 coalition legislators who are unlikely to take part in the trust vote.
The coalition has alleged that the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah were behind a conspiracy to destabilize the Kumaraswamy government.
“@BJP4Karnataka is under tremendous pressure as they consider this as a form of trade business. Now that they have made their payments to a few, they want to assume power as they wish. But that is not how our Parliamentary democracy works!!," former Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah tweeted.
At least 20 legislators from the coalition, including 15 rebels, were not present in the House—their absence would bring down the government in a trust vote. However, Siddaramaiah on Thursday had sought clarifications on the Supreme Court order upholding a plea by the rebel MLAs to be allowed to stay away from the trust vote, and its implications on a whip by the Congress.
The assembly will reconvene on Monday.