Bengaluru: It will all be a game of numbers in the Karnataka Assembly today, where the three-day-old Yeddyurappa government will face the critical floor test. The trial of strength to decide the fate of the BJP government is scheduled at 4 pm after a Supreme Court order drastically reduced the 15 days’ time given by Governor Vajubhai Vala to Yeddyurappa to prove his majority.
The Supreme Court at 10.30 am today commenced the crucial hearing on Congress-JD(S) combine’s petition challenging the governor’s decision to appoint BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as pro tem speaker for holding the floor test for Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the House.
The combine contended it was contrary to the tradition of choosing the senior-most legislator for the post. A four-time MLA, Bopaiah was the Karnataka Assembly speaker from 2009 to 2013 and had disqualified 16 MLAs and bailed out the then B S Yeddyurappa government ahead of a no-confidence vote in 2010.
The Congress and JD(S) MLAs who were camping at a hotel in Hyderabad fearing alleged attempts of poaching by the BJP came back to the city this morning. As per the directions of the apex court, the police have made massive security arrangements in and around the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state legislature, for the smooth conduct of the floor test.
Public entry to the Vidhana Soudha has been restricted and officials and staff of the Secretariat are being allowed to enter the premises after thorough checks. Elections held on May 12 to 222 of the 224 constituencies in the state threw up a hung assembly with the BJP emerging as the single largest party having 104 MLAs, seven short of the half mark of 111, while the Congress won 78 seats and JD(S) 37.
Yeddurappa was sworn in as chief minister on May 17, two days after the results were declared, after the governor accepted his claim to form the government. The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court by the Congress and the JDS and passing interim orders on their petition, the court yesterday directed that the floor test be conducted today.
Striking a post-poll alliance, the combine has claimed the support of 117 MLAs, including one each from the BSP and the KPJP and one Independent. As JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy has won in 2 seats, the combined strength of Congress and JD(S) MLA’s while voting at the floor test is expected to stand at 117.
However, two Congress MLAs Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil reportedly went incommunicado, causing some worry to the grand old party. On the other hand, Yeddyurappa has asserted that he has “100 per cent confidence” that he would prove his majority. With the BJP having only 104 MLAs, it remains to be seen how the party will rustle up the numbers and prove majority.
Reports suggested that the BJP has reached out to the Congress and JD(S) MLAs, who are unhappy over coming together of their parties for power, to abstain from attending the House today. Also, the other plan is to ensure that at least seven MLAs cross vote in BJP’s favour.
The specially called assembly session begins at 11 am when the newly-elected MLAs would be administered oath by Bopaiah. Voting will happen on the motion moved the chief minister through the process of head count, where row by row counting of votes of those supporting and opposing the motion will take place.
In their plea before the apex court filed last night, the combine has termed as “brazenly unconstitutional” the action of the governor in appointing “a junior MLA” as the pro tem speaker. The application also seeks certain urgent directions to ensure that the floor test is conducted in a fair and transparent manner. The Supreme Court in 2011 had quashed Bopaiah’s decision as assembly speaker to disqualify 16 MLAs ahead of the no confidence motion which had ensured survival of the then Yeddyurappa government.