Bengaluru: The Karnataka assembly is seeing a direct confrontations between the legislature and the judiciary, as well as the governor and the legislature.
The confidence motion moved Thursday by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is stuck in the middle, with the JD(S) and ally Congress insisting on a full-fledged debate, in an attempt to delay the vote as much as possible. The house was adjourned without a vote Thursday.
But late on Thursday, Governor Vajubhai Vala wrote to Kumaraswamy, asking him to prove his majority by 1.30 pm Friday.
Sources in the Congress told ThePrint that leaders of the coalition were going to ensure that the debate would go on for a few days, as it would also help them highlight the “dirty politics” that the BJP has indulged in to bring down the government.
Meanwhile, a senior BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity: “We will take legal recourse if need be to ensure that the vote of confidence happens as soon as possible.”
Congress questions SC order
Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah has alleged that the Supreme Court’s order allowing the rebel MLAs to abstain has “hampered” the proceedings of the trust vote. He said without members being present in the assembly, how could a discussion happen on a vote of confidence, and that it undermined the sanctity of the house.
He also said the order diluted the power of the whip given to a political party, with fellow Congress leader H.K. Patil saying on the floor of the house: “There will be a day that the MLAs will not respect the whip issued by either of the parties.”
Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao told ThePrint that his party and its JD(S) now plan to approach the Supreme Court again to seek clarity on its order. He said holding a trust vote in such a scenario would not be correct.
Earlier in the day, the BJP had approached Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, seeking his intervention and alleging “delaying tactics” by the Congress and the JD(S).
The governor then sent a letter to Speaker Ramesh Kumar, stating that he hoped the vote of confidence proceedings would be completed by the end of day.
“I appeal to you to ensure that the vote of confidence is tested today,” he wrote.
However, the ruling coalition alleged that this was a clear example of the governor’s interference in the legislature.
Exchanges in the house
Kumaraswamy began the day by formally moving a confidence motion and launching a full-fledged attack against the BJP for demanding his resignation.
The CM maintained that the debate was necessary, as there was a need to rebut the “baseless” allegations of looting the state made by the BJP, and also highlight the performance of the government to the people who have been keenly watching the proceedings. He said it was in the interest of the state for him to clear the air.
“I have self-respect and so do my ministers. How can I live with this and not discuss this? I have to clarify and also put on record who is responsible for destabilising this government,” he said on the floor of the house.
Meanwhile, BJP state chief B.S. Yeddyurappa said his party was ready to listen to all those who wanted to debate. “Give time to whoever you want. Let the discussion go on until midnight, but complete the vote of confidence today,” he said on the floor of the house.
The leaders’ speeches indicated that the JD(S)-Congress coalition had lost the support of the rebel MLAs, and its efforts to woo them back have failed. In fact, at one point during the day, Kaggadaspura MLA Srimanth Patil is said to have left the resort in Bengaluru where all the Congress MLAs have been holed up, in order to join the rebel MLAs in Mumbai.
“Srimanth’s leaving is a sign that that the BJP’s effort to poach more and more MLAs to bring down the strength of the house is working. But the Congress and JD(S) will expose every strategy of the BJP to the public in this debate,” said a senior Congress leader on the condition of anonymity.
What do JD(S)-Congress gain from delay?
By delaying the vote, the Congress and JD(S) are trying to buy time to try and lure some of their MLAs back. They have also been in touch with several leaders in the BJP, and have given them a choice of either joining them or cross-voting during the trust vote.
Bengaluru-based political analyst Mahadev Prakash said the ruling parties may try a reverse-poaching operation, but “many of the BJP MLAs have not mustered the courage to join hands with the coalition as they are aware that the infighting will continue and they will not be able to grow within the set up”.
Former JD(S) state president and a prominent rebel MLA A.H. Vishwanath added that the more the coalition partners delay the vote, the stronger their resolve to stay away from them.
“We will not return to Bangalore until Monday,” he told ThePrint by phone.
But Prakash feels the more the vote is delayed, “the BJP seems to be gaining public sympathy”.
Another political analyst, Harish Ramaswamy, labelled it the “fatal attraction of power”.
“The delay is more of a strategy to survive against the odds. Kumaraswamy wasn’t able to ensure that his coalition had a future, so this strategy shows his survival instincts and efforts to weaken the opposition,” Ramaswamy said.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.