Bengaluru/New Delhi: Karnataka Chief Minister H.D.Kumaraswamy on Friday sought a trust vote in the lower house of the state legislature to prove his majority and turning the tables on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that has been demanding the ouster of the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and Congress coalition government.
"I am voluntarily seeking a trust vote in the wake of the political developments," Kumaraswamy said in his opening remarks on the first day of the monsoon session that began on Friday.
The coalition exuded confidence in the face of its worst crisis that has seen at least 16 Congress and JD(S) legislators resign since 1 July.
"I am ready for everything and not here to stick to my chair," the chief minister said, before requesting time for the trust vote.
Kumaraswamy’s request comes almost simultaneously with the Supreme Court order, in which it stated that status quo needs to be maintained by the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly with respect to the resignation and disqualification of 10 rebel legislators.
Assembly Speaker, K.R. Ramesh Kumar is yet to meet any of the legislators to decide if the resignations were “voluntary and genuine". Two rebel legislators--Pratap Gouda Patil and Narayana Gowda-- and Anand Singh who were given appointments to meet the speaker on Friday did not appear before Kumar.
The status quo has added to the confusion if the rebel legislators should attend the session due to the coalition whip or attract disqualification proceedings.
The Speaker is simultaneously looking at earlier disqualification petitions filed by the Congress and JD(S) against at least 10 of these legislators who have been accused of colluding with the BJP, that has tacitly admitted to its role in the entire resignation episode.
“The Mumbai MLAs have contacted our friends and they are happy about this. Let’s wait for Tuesday’s order," B.S.Yeddyurappa, the BJP state president said on Friday.
He said that the SC order would shield the rebels from the whip. He added that the chief minister has the right to call trust vote and that the BJP will take a decision if the latter moves a motion.
BJP’s statements coming even as news of the saffron outfit trying to negotiate a coalition deal with the JD(S) intensified on Friday.
The coalition leaders sounded confident of getting the numbers as it remains hopeful that some of the rebels will return to the party fold. Spooked by the confidence of the coalition, the BJP moved its legislators to a plush hotel in Bengaluru to shield them from being poached.
Days after criticising the JD(S) for lodging its legislators in a hotel, Yeddyurappa defended his party’s move stating that everybody wanted to be together. But some senior leaders from the coalition said it would also resort to the same techniques as the BJP.
“We (coalition) can’t sit quietly if they (BJP) are trying to take our people," said one senior Congress leader, requesting not to be named. The two sides rekindling the state’s bitter political past that has been played out in plush resorts, while the population suffer from one of the worst droughts and acute drinking water shortage. The Congress also lodged some of its legislators in a Bengaluru hotel until Monday to shield them.
The ongoing session, that will resume on Monday, also has to pass the state budget but if it falls short on numbers, the finance bill will be defeated and the government will be forced to step down. Aware of the stakes, the two sides have focused all its energies on the numbers. The speaker has not given any time frame for completing the resignation process but if he does end up accepting them, it would reduce the coalition’s strength to 100 (excluding the speaker) as against the BJP that has 107 that includes the support of the two independents.