The coalition crisis in Karnataka not only stirred drama in Bengaluru and Mumbai but also in Delhi on Thursday.
With the Congress in Delhi alleging that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was involved in poaching their MLAs and destabilising their government in Karnataka to the assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar ruling out any immediate decision on the resignation of rebel MLAs in the ruling JD(S)-Congress coalition, the political crisis took another turn today.
How the drama unfolded
The 14 rebel MLAs flew down from Mumbai to Bengaluru to meet Karnataka assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar as directed by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court asked the Speaker to decide “forthwith” about the resignation of 10 rebel 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 plea by the rebel MLAs.
Security was beefed up at the Vidhana Soudha from the gates to the Speaker’s chamber. The MLAs were provided with a police convoy to ensure their safety.
The rebel MLAs met the Speaker and handed over their resignation in a proper format and asked him to accept them.
What did the Speaker say
Speaking to the media, Speaker Ramesh Kumar denied the allegations that he was deliberately making a delay in accepting the resignations of the JDS, Congress MLAs and accused the rebel MLAs of misusing the functionary of the nation.
“It is not just about accepting and rejecting a resignation. Should I be working at lightning speed? For whose sake? What about the rules,” asked the Speaker.
“The MLAs don’t communicate with me and rush to the Governor. What can he do? Is it not misusing the functionary of the nation? They approached the Supreme Court also They [MLAs] sat in Mumbai and went to Supreme Court and accused me of delaying,” he said.
Ramesh Kumar 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.”
The Karnataka Speaker has now decided to look through the resignations at night and see if they amount to defection.
Speaker is biased: BJP
The BJP has, however, pointed fingers at the Speaker, accusing him of being biased. “The Speaker is influenced and prejudiced and has no authority to delay despite the Supreme Court’s directions,” BJP Karnataka in-charge Muralidhar Rao said.
Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Pralhad Joshi said the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly should take a decision on the resignation of the MLAs at the earliest and should not drag the ongoing constitutional crisis in the state.
Coalition puts up brave face
The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition wore a brave face before the media and claimed that they hold the majority. The coalition government also claimed that it will pass through if there is a no-confidence motion passed by the BJP.
Speaking exclusively to India Today TV, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said, “Why should I resign? I have my MLAs with me and I have the majority.”
He later tweeted, “Congress -JDS coalition in the state is going strong despite the efforts to destabilise. We are confident and prepared for smooth and fruitful conduct of legislative sessions.”
Congress issues whip to MLAs
Meanwhile, the Congress has issued a whip to all its MLAs, asking them to vote in favour of the party if there comes a need to vote. In case of a violation, action will be taken as per the anti-defection law, the directive states.
The JD(S) has also initiated a disqualification petition against their three rebel MLAs Narayana Gowda, Gopalaiah, and H Vishwanath.
In ‘Operation Kamala’ Karnataka 2.0, Mumbai played a big role by not only keeping a group of 14 Congress and JD(S) together but also keeping them away from DK Shivakumar.
Interestingly, when ‘Operation Kamala’ was tried in Karnataka the first time in 2018, BJP Mumbai president Ashish Ahelar was given responsibility to tackle the rebels. This time, the saffron party picked BJP MLC Prasad Lad.
Where are the rebel MLAs?
The fourteen rebel MLAs from Karnataka returned to a luxury hotel in Mumbai on Thursday after submitting their resignations to the Assembly Speaker in Bengaluru, a local BJP leader said.
The MLAs have returned to the Renaissance hotel in suburban Powai and they would be staying there for another two days, the leader said.
The legislators were camping here since Saturday evening after resigning and withdrawing support to the 13-month-old JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka, bringing it on the verge of collapse.
(With inputs from PTI)