Karnataka crisis: Speaker douses fire, keeps BJP waiting longer

Karnataka, Speaker KR Ramesh - The Federal
Bengaluru Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar on July 9 had rejected the resignations of eight rebel MLAs. Photo - PTI

Even as the HD Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)-Congress coalition government was reduced to a minority, with the about 15 MLAs resigning as on July 9 (Tuesday), the Karnataka assembly Speaker K R Ramesh’s decision stalling the resignations has come as a relief for some.

Rejecting eight MLAs’ resignations saying they were not in accordance with rule 202 of the Procedure and Conduct of Business in Karnataka Legislative Assembly, Ramesh said he was not in a hurry to take a decision and wanted more time to carefully consider the legal provisions.

The rejected list includes JD(S) leader H Vishwanath, Congress MLAs ST Somashekhar, Muniratna Naidu, Byrathi Basavaraj, B C Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli.

Meanwhile, the Speaker accepted the resignations of two JD(S) MLAs Narayana Gowda and K Gopalaiah besides three Congress MLAs Ramalinga Reddy, Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil.

He asked them to re-submit the resignations as per procedure and called a few of them for a meeting on July 12 and 15.

The Speaker is yet to take a decision on the resignations of Congress MLA Roshan Baig and independent MLA and minister H Nagesh.

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“I want to do this transparently and I am not losing any time here,” the Speaker said. The next Assembly session will start on July 12 (Friday).

Had the resignations been accepted, the majority mark would have been 105. The Congress-JD(S) coalition numbers would have reduced to 104 in the 224-member Assembly. It would further come down to 102 as two independent MLAs have withdrawn their support to the Kumaraswamy government.

The BJP could have staked claim to form the government, having 107 members with it, two more than the majority mark, but the Speaker’s decision will mean that they will have to wait longer for their turn.

The Congress appealed to the resigned MLAs, some of whom were still in Mumbai and Goa, to return to Bengaluru and agree for talks. However, about 10 of them rejected the proposal and said they wouldn’t mind attracting the provisions of anti-defection law but would not take back the resignations.

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“We are not forced by anyone (BJP) nor are we forcing anyone, or asking for ministerial berth. We did it in the interest of the state as lack of development plagued the coalition government,” Somashekar, one of the resigned MLAs, said.

The Congress which staged a walkout in Lok Sabha after accusing the BJP of indulging in “politics of poaching” in Karnataka, was hopeful that the MLAs, including its senior leader Ramalinga Reddy, would return.

The opposition BJP denied the charges even as Congress leaders and BSP MP Danish Ali accused them of murdering democracy.

Former Karnataka CM and now Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda rubbished the accusations, saying the Congress-JD(S) MLAs did not have faith in the government and hence they resigned. “They dragged BJP into it for political gains,” he said.