Bengaluru: As the political chaos in Karnataka continued, State Assembly speaker K R Ramesh Kumar Thursday said almost all resignations by MLAs were in the proper format but he was under "no obligation" to act in haste until he was convinced that they were genuine and voluntary.
Asserting he will abide by the rules, the speaker said he will take a "just decision which may be of convenience to some and inconvenience to some." As many as 10 Karnataka rebel MLAs, who were camping in Mumbai, arrived here by two special flights, hours after the Supreme Court allowed them to meet the Assembly Speaker to convey their decision to resign. The MLAs boarded a luxury bus from the HAL airport and proceeded towards the Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat.
"The MLAs had come, they said they want to resign, I said they can give...they asked me to accept it. It cannot be like that I will have to see whether it is genuine or voluntary and be convinced," Kumar told reporters after meeting the disgruntled legislators. After submitting their resignation, the MLAs later flew back to Mumbai. Like the Congress, the JDS too swiftly moved to disqualify its three rebel MLAs-- A H Vishwanath, K Gopalaiah and Narayana Gowda--but the speaker said he cannot take cognisance of the JD(S)s petition to disqualify the legislators as it was not filed in the proper format.
The Speaker said he has "set aside the petition" by JD(S) leader Ramesh Babu seeking the disqualification as he had no locus standi since he was neither leader of their legislative party nor member of the assembly. "I am delaying because I love this land. I am not acting in haste because I have to convince myself first. I cannot work at a lightning speed. "Yes, these resignations are now in the prescribed format but I have to mull for the whole night whether these were genuine and voluntary and see the definitions of those words," Kumar said.
He added, "I emphasise I am not under anybody's obligation. My obligation is to the aspirations of the people of the state and the parliamentary democracy." In response to the supreme courts directive to take a decision quickly, Kumar said he has written to the apex court that he was unable to a take a decision in a haste because the constitution has laid down certain procedures and I have given them (disgruntled MLAs) time. "I have videographed the entire proceeding. I am sending the video to the supreme court registrar." He expressed displeasure over the manner the rebel MLAs approached the governor and then the supreme court to speed up accepting the resignation.
"The elected members of the legislative assembly need not have to seek supreme courts permission to meet me," Kumar said. Kumar also insisted that he was neither responsible for the current political situation nor its outcome. Police had made tight security arrangements at the Vidhana Soudha, and created a 'zero traffic corridor' to enable the MLAs reach the Speaker's office well on time. In Delhi, BJP leader and Union minister Pralhad Joshi said the speaker should take a decision at the earliest to end the "Constitutional crisis".
"... Speaker should take the decision at the earliest since they (MLAs) have submitted their resignation in person. There should not be any reason to further drag it," he told reporters at the Parliament premises. He said the Speaker's post was a constitutional one and he doesn't want to comment anything about him. Meanwhile, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah and KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao Thursday appeared before the Speaker in connection with the petition they had moved recently seeking disqualification of rebel party MLAs.
The party, however, did not move any petition against seven time MLA Ramalinga Reddy, and said he was an "exception." Speaking to reporters earlier, the speaker said the MLAs approaching the apex court made things look murky. "I had not prevented them (disgruntled MLAs who resigned) from coming. I dont know why the hell they went to the supreme court to meet me," Kumar told reporters outside the Vidhana Soudha before leaving for lunch.
"There was no need for them (MLAs who resigned) to approach the Supreme Court and get me an advice that I should meet them. They could have willingly come here. That itself shows the whole thing is murky." He also refuted allegations that he declined to meet any legislator. The top court earlier asked the speaker to decide "forthwith" on Thursday about the resignation of 10 rebel Congress-JD(S) coalition MLAs, allowing them to meet him at 6 pm.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the decision taken by the speaker has to be intimated on Friday when the court takes up the matter again. The resignation of 16 MLAs (13 from Congress and three from JDS) has pushed the coalition government to the brink of collapse. Two independent MLAs have also withdrawn support to the coalition government. The disgruntled Congress MLAs maintained that they have not quit their party and have only resigned from the assembly.
Of the 16 MLAs who have resigned, 13 are from Congress and three from JD(S). The 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 Monday 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 16 MLAs are accepted, the coalition's tally will be reduced to 100.