Bengaluru: Call it bravado or a lucky roll of dice to get the right numbers, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday rolled up his political sleeve and said he was ready for a fight on the floor of the Assembly by seeking a vote of confidence. He has accordingly asked Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to "fix a time" of the trust vote. By evening, the Congress, the JD(S) and the BJP had their lawmakers tucked away in various resorts for the weekend to prevent any poaching, even as Karnataka remained without a government. So over-booked were the resorts in and around Bengaluru that the BJP had to book three getaways to house their 105 MLAs.
"I have decided to seek trust vote, please fix time for it," Kumaraswamy declared in a come-what-may attitude as the budget session began in the Vidhana Souda on Friday morning. "I am ready for everything, I am not here to stick to power," added the Chief Minister, who had on Thursday ruled out his resignation. The BJP too said they are ready and will defeat Kumaraswamy hands down. The Congress-JDS coalition has been rocked by resignation of 18 MLAs over the past week, leaving Kumaraswamy speechless and shell-shocked. Today the CM found his voice. Having nothing to lose, he decided to go for the trust vote.
If the resignations of the MLAs are accepted, the ruling coalition will slip below the half-way mark and rival BJP will have a majority. Meanwhile, the ruling coalition, desperately gasping for survival, got a breath of political fresh air the Supreme Court said the Speaker need not take a decision on the resignations of the rebel MLAs till Tuesday. But the court made it clear that the Speaker cannot disqualify any legislator, nor accept any resignation. In short, Kumar can just sit on the resignations, which, in any case, he has been doing."In view of the weighty issues that have arisen, we are of the view that the matter be considered by us on Tuesday. We are of the view that the status quo as of today with regard to the prevailing situation be maintained.
Neither the issue of resignation nor that of disqualification be decided till Tuesday," the apex court said. The rebels told the court that the Speaker had questioned their move to approach the Supreme Court and even yelled at them saying they could "go to hell". The Speaker, however, denied the charge, saying his meeting with the lawmakers was video-graphed. Kumar is often described by his critics as the Speaker who speaks more than the members. A veteran of 10 elections, Kumar has also essayed the role of a politician in several Kannada TV serials and carries his love of dialogue and punch lines to the house and doesn't skip a beat while berating members or making a point.
Meanwhile, the Congress legislative party leader Siddaramaiah let a cat among the pigeons when he said he was confident that the coalition government would survive the floor test, because there are plenty of ''black sheep'' in the BJP. "We are confident. That is why we are moving a vote of confidence motion. The BJP is afraid because they know there are black sheep in their party," he told the media. For the next two days, the Congress, the JD(S) and the BJP will rev up their political engines trying the coax, poach and, probably, even ''kidnap'' MLAs before Kumaraswamy hits the floor of the House.
- Shankar Raj