Floor test turns floor rest, MLAs to sleep in house

Bengaluru: After a day of high drama coalition partner Congress stalled voting on the trust vote moved by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in the Assembly on Thursday and thus protected him from ''falling.''

That provoked Governor Vajubhai Valla to intervene late night and instruct Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to finish the floor test by 1 pm Friday.

Late in the night, addressing the media, Yeddyurappa alleged that the confidence motion was not even discussed properly for 15 minutes and other issues were sneaked in by the ruling coalition members to delay the trust vote.

"There has been a breach of the constitutional framework," he said, adding that it was unparalleled. "To protest against this, we will sleep in the Assembly itself," Yeddyurappa said. "We will stay here until the trust vote is decided," Yeddyurappa declared.

At the end of the day, the ''floor test'' became ''floor rest'' as BJP MLAs spread bedsheets and blankets to stay put in the House for the night.

WHAT CONGRESS WILL DO NOW: The Congress is likely to use the Governor's missive to raise fresh objections when the House reconvenes on Friday morning, just as it did on Thursday when Vajubhai Valla sent a plain vanilla letter to the Speaker requesting him to complete the process of voting by evening.

This request has now been turned into an instruction. The Chief Minister is likely to write a counter letter asking the Governor for some more time as members should be able to exercise their right to speak.

Legal opinion is divided on whether the Governor has a right to instruct the Speaker who is the presiding officer of the House. But others point out that if the Governor has a doubt on the majority of the present coalition, he can instruct the Speaker, failing which he has the right to suspend the House.

HOUSE HIJACKED: Earlier in the day, the Congress played to a pre-determined script in trying to delay the voting process. Just minutes after Kumaraswamy moved the motion of confidence, legislative party leader and Congress leader Siddaramaiah raised a point of order.

Instead of coming to the point of order, he went all around in what was clearly a delaying tactic. The Speaker played along by giving Siddaramaiah yawning time while saying it was the Congress leader's style to take time to make a point.

The Congress leader cleverly converted the point of order into a debate which the rule books say is not allowed.

At the end of heated arguments and some high drama, Siddaramaiah made two crucial points: that he was not a party in the Supreme Court when the matter of curtailing the power of whip was raised.

“I am the legislative party leader and I should have been heard,” he said. The apex court had snatched his right to issue a whip which is fundamental under the Constitution.

Secondly, he said the matter on the power of issuing a whip should be referred to the Supreme Court as Wednesday's interim ruling was bad in law and will affect many state governments.

On the first point, legal experts said Siddaramaiah was indeed represented in the apex court as the Chief Minister was party to the case in the Supreme Court.

The CM is the leader of the coalition. Moreover, the court had never asked him not to issue a whip. He could, but the rebel MLAs cannot be forced to attend the Assembly.

On the second point, experts said Siddaramaiah could have appealed against the court's verdict on Wednesday itself or Thursday.

There was bitter war of words between the Congress and the BJP as the coalition government's tactics of delaying the voting on the trust motion became obvious.

In the dying moments of the House, a livid BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa stormed into the house and announced that the BJP lawmakers would spend the night in the Assembly as a protest. This is what the Congress had done in 2010.

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