New Delhi: The political crisis in Karnataka Wednesday reached the Supreme Court as 10 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs moved their plea alleging that the state Assembly Speaker has been deliberately not accepting their resignations.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the submission of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, and assured him that it will see whether their petition can be listed for an urgent hearing tomorrow. The senior lawyer said these lawmakers have already resigned from their membership of the assembly and wanted to contest fresh elections. He sought the hearing either on Wednesday or Thursday on the plea in which it has been alleged that the Speaker had acted in a partisan manner and deliberately not accepting their resignations.
"We will see," the bench, which also comprised justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, said when Rohatgi was pressing for an urgent hearing saying "time is the essence" in the matter. The state Assembly Speaker had held on Tuesday that the resignations of nine out of 14 rebel MLAs were not in order. The Congress has sought the intervention of Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar in disqualifying its rebel legislators and accused the BJP of using money power to lure its members. The BJP has denied the charge.
A total of 13 MLAs--10 of the Congress and three of the JD(S)--submitted their resignation to the Speaker's office on July 6 triggering a fresh political crisis in the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the state. Another Congress MLA R Roshan Baig resigned on Tuesday. The 14 MLAs who submitted their resignations are S T Somashekhar, Munirathna, B A Basavaraj, Pratap Gouda Patil, B C Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, A Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, Ramalinga Reddy, Anand Singh and Baig (all Congress), and Gopalaiah, Narayana Gowda, Adagur H Vishwanath (all JD-S), the speaker said.
Senior Congress leader and Karnataka Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar was on Wednesday prevented from entering the premises in Mumbai where the rebel MLAs are stationed. On Tuesday midnight, 10 of the 12 MLAs put up in the luxury hotel in Powai wrote to Mumbai Police, saying they feared a threat to their lives, and asked that Shivakumar be prevented from entering the hotel. Shivakumar, the Congress troubleshooter, said he will not leave without meeting the MLAs.
The ruling coalition's total strength is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1) besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, who on July 8 resigned from the ministry, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the 14 MLAs are accepted, the coalition's tally will be reduced to 102. The Speaker also has a vote.