Bengaluru: Karnataka BJP president BS Yeddyurappa on Saturday locked horns with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy saying the saffron party was more than ready to move a no-trust move. Throwing a counter challenge, Yeddyurappa said “We have no objection to face the confidence motion (of HDK). We will wait until Monday. On Monday, we are ready to face the Motion.” He said it is just theatrics by HDK and the Congress because seeking a vote of confidence was “meaningless,” as the ruling coalition has “lost majority in the Assembly.”
Meanwhile, in another development, five more rebel Karnataka Congress MLAs approached the Supreme Court Saturday claiming that Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar was sitting on their resignations. The MLAs also alleged that they “are being forced to support the government on the threat of disqualification”. The petition comes a day after the apex court directed the Speaker not to take any decision on the disqualification or resignation of 10 rebel Congress-JD(S) coalition MLAs until July 16. With today''s petition, the number has gone to 15. One MLA is yet to move the apex court.
If the 16 resignations are accepted, the coalition''s numbers in the 224-member House will fall to 101 compared to the BJP''s 105 MLAs and with the support of two Independents, it would be 107. The BJP can win a confidence vote if at least 11 resignations are accepted. This is where the Speaker will play a role. If the resignations are not accepted, the lawmakers face disqualification as their parties had issued an order to be present on Friday on the first day of the legislature session.
The lawmakers had instead returned to Mumbai after resubmitting their resignations to the Speaker on Thursday evening. In the relative political calm, Congress party's kotwal (sentinel) DK Shivakumar swung into action as early as 5 am when he knocked at the doors of rebel lawmaker MTB Nagaraj and plonked himself in his house trying to persuade him to change his mind.
After four hours of negotiations, Nagaraj seems to have softened his stand. "The situation was such that we submitted our resignations, but now Shivakumar and others came and requested us to withdraw resignations. I will speak to Sudhakar Rao (another rebel MLA) and then see what is to be done, after all I have spent decades in Congress," Nagaraj said.
Reacting to Nagaraj''s statement, DKS said he is happy that rebel MLA has given his assurance of staying in the party. “We should live together and die together because we have worked for 40 years for the party, there are ups and downs in every family. We should forget everything and move forward,” said Shivakumar. Earlier, senior Congress leader and seven-time Bengaluru MLA Ramalinga Reddy had said that he may reconsider his decision to resign. This follows assurance that he would be given the portfolio of Bengaluru Development, currently held by Deputy CM Pamameswara. But the BJP is trying hard to convince him not to take back his resignation.
The Karnataka Congress leadership is making similar attempts to persuade MLAs Munirathna Naidu and R Roshan Baig. Sources in JD(S) said that HD Kumaraswamy is in direct talks with at least four Congress legislators who had tendered their resignation. Meanwhile, rebel MLAs said there is nothing to repent. They said, "We are firm on our stand and soon the new govt is coming in Karnataka." Meanwhile, 3 Congress rebels -- Chandrakant Kavlekar, Jennifer Monserrate and Filipe Nery Rodrigues -- along with former Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo were sworn in as ministers during a formal ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Goa on Saturday. The Congress rebels had joined the BJP on Wednesday. Kavlekar, a former leader of opposition, is tipped to be deputy Chief Minister.
- Shankar Raj