New Delhi: Karnataka’s political crisis deepened Wednesday after 10 rebel MLAs knocked the door of the Supreme Court, alleging partisan conduct on part of the assembly Speaker after he refused to accept their resignations.
The leaders alleged that Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar’s move is a ploy to disqualify the rebel MLAs. His proceedings are “illegal” and intended only to allow a minority government to function, said the plea.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the case before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi Wednesday, two days before the Karnataka assembly is set to begin its monsoon session.
The apex court is likely to hear the matter Thursday.
The plea came days after 14 Congress and JD(S) MLAs resigned from their parties. Out of these, 10 have moved the apex court.
Kumar — who has refused to accept the resignation of nine MLAs over non-compliance with the letter format — has asked the rebels to be present on the first day of the monsoon session.
In their plea, the rebel MLAs submitted that the Speaker has acted in a “partisan and mala fide manner in the present case in order to protect the Govt. in power which is in a minority”.
On 6 July, after the ministers tendered their resignation, the Speaker left “in his private car has been untraceable since then”, said the plea.
“It is stated that the acknowledgement of Sh. Somashekar was torn by one of the ministers of the Govt,” it added.
Congress leader S.T. Somashekhar was among the 14 MLAs who quit. The others are Munirathna, B.A. Basavaraj, Pratap Gouda Patil, B.C. Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, A. Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, Ramalinga Reddy, Anand Singh and Roshan Baig (all Congress). The JDS leaders who have quit are Gopalaiah, Narayana Gowda, Adagur H. Vishwanath, said a PTI report.
The resignations of these leaders have plunged the state into a political crisis, threatening the survival of chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s 13-month-old Karnataka government.
The ruling coalition’s total strength in the assembly is 116, with Congress’s 78 seats, JD(S)’s 37 and BSP’s 1, besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, who resigned Monday from the state cabinet, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House. The halfway mark is 113.
In their plea, the MLAs also contended that the Karnataka Speaker’s refusal to accept their resignations is a ploy to disqualify them.
The leaders told the apex court that the Congress party “acting in a concerted manner”, by filing a plea before the Speaker seeking their disqualification.
“Needless to state, the disqualification proceedings are completely illegal and without any cause of action in as much as the MLAs had tendered their resignations itself to their membership,” said the plea.
“The Assembly Session is to begin from 12.7.19, i.e the same day that the MLAs have been asked to remain in person before the Speaker. The same in itself shows the intent of the Speaker to disqualify the Petitioners in a prejudged manner,” said the plea.
It added that the idea is to disqualify the petitioners and allow the minority government to function without the support of majority in the House.
‘Resigned without fear’
The rebel MLAs said in their plea that they resigned “voluntarily and without any fear”. The move came as they were “disenchanted with the mal-administration under the present dispensation”.
The leaders said since Kumaraswamy took oath as Karnataka chief minister, the administration has come to a standstill.
The plea referred to the IMA ponzi scam and allegations that senior government functionaries are involved in it. It also mentioned the JSW land scam, wherein land has been allegedly given at throw away rates to industrialists against public interest.