Karnataka: BJP MLAs dine, sleep in House; Guv tells CM to prove majority by 1:30 PM

BJP MLAs lounging in the Assembly House on Thursday night, as part of their overnight dharna. Photo: ANI video grab

The stormy debate in the Karnataka Vidhan Soudha on Thursday (July 18) that witnessed mud-slinging, sloganeering and repeated adjournments, culminated with Governor Vajubhai Vala giving Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy time till 1.30 pm on Friday (July 19) to prove his majority in the floor test.

Even as the house adjourned for the day, BJP leader Yeddyurappa announced that his MLAs will camp in the Assembly as part of an overnight dharna over their demand for floor test.

“We are demanding that the motion be put to vote. But, the chief minister is reluctant to take it up as he has lost confidence of the House and the people,” Yeddyurappa told reporters.

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In what seemed like a party get-together before the D-Day, the BJP MLAs were seen having dinner at the Opposition Lounge of the Karnataka Assembly and later spread their bedding on the floor and the couches of the House to tuck in for the night. On Friday morning, some of them were seen, taking a walk in the Assembly compound.

On Thursday, even as Kumaraswamy moved a motion of confidence, the issue over Congress Shrimant Balasaheb Patil going missing from the resort and later seen in Mumbai led to a furore in the House.

Accusing the BJP of abducting Patil, Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar presented a photo-proof of BJP leaders meeting Patil in Mumbai. Questions were also raised as to why he flew to a hospital in Mumbai despite having several options in Bengaluru.

Patil, an MLA from Kagwad in Belgaum, was in talks with rebel MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, from Gokak, before he resigned. Jarkiholi, who had on several occasions threatened to pull down the coalition government, tried to convince Anand Singh and Patil to resign along with him last week.

While Singh followed suit, Patil didn’t. Expecting that Patil would switch sides, the Congress tried to convince him last month and kept him in its fold until Wednesday. Patil had assured the leaders of his loyalty to the party.

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Earlier in the day, the Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah raised a point of order requesting the Speaker to defer the trust vote. He said that the interim order issued by the Supreme Court on Wednesday (July 17) on the petition filed by the rebel MLAs lacked clarity on the whip issue.

“The validity of whip had never been questioned before, but it has happened today. Hence, the party wants clarity on this issue,” Congress state party unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao told the Assembly.

The top court had on July 17 ruled that while the Speaker was free to decide on the status of the rebel MLAs and that his discretion should not be fettered by any direction from the court, it said the resigned MLAs should not be compelled to take part in the Assembly proceedings.

The court order came after 13 Congress MLAs and three from JD(S) resigned from the Assembly. The Speaker is yet to decide on their resignations.While Ramalinga Reddy, one of the senior Congress leaders, returned to the Assembly on Thursday, other rebel MLAs protested against his decision.

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Earlier in the day, the BJP had requested the Governor to step in, alleging that the Speaker and the coalition government unnecessarily delayed the voting process. Subsequently, the Governor sent a note to the Speaker, asking him to conduct the vote of confidence on Thursday itself.

However, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar left the session to meet the Advocate General to seek legal advice on the Governor’s note, following which, the House was adjourned by the Deputy Speaker.

Last year after the Assembly election results were out, the BJP, being the single-largest party, was invited by the Governor to form government in the state. But subsequently, the Supreme Court conducted a midnight hearing and ordered Yeddyurappa to prove his majority.

However, Yeddyurappa resigned from the chief minister’s post even before the trust vote was taken up. Kumaraswamy, as the head of the Congress-JD(S) coalition, won the trust vote and went on to form the government.

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