Confidence vote put off to Mon as House adjourned; CM moves SC against Guv interference
Karnataka Assembly was on Friday adjourned till Monday without taking up voting on the confidence motion as the political standoff grew up into a constitutional crisis after Speaker KR Ramesh ignored the Governor’s second deadline and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Karnataka’s Congress unit moved the Supreme Court accusing Governor Vajubhai Vala of interfering with the Assembly proceedings during the debate on trust vote.
They also sought clarification on its July 17 order contending SC’s July 17 order was coming in the way of the party issuing whip to its legislators in the ongoing trust vote proceedings.
Before adjourning the House for the day, Speaker Ramesh Kumar said the motion of confidence would reach finality on Monday and it would not be prolonged further under any circumstances, to which the Government agreed.
Kumaraswamy and Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao filed separate applications on Friday afternoon after the Speaker ignored 1.30 pm deadline set by the Governor to conclude the proceedings of the confidence motion.
Both the applications sought clarification of the July 17 order of the apex court by which the 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs were granted relief that they cannot be compelled to participate in the ongoing Assembly proceedings.
The order “whittles down” a political party’s power to issue whip to its MLAs as it has a constitutional right to do so and the court can’t restrict that, they said.
It was obvious that the Congress and JD(S) leaders were using every tactics to delay the trust vote in the hope that they would be able to persuade some of the rebels to come back to their fold. They would be well aware that any precipitous action by the Centre might allow them to go down as “martyrs” of a political conspiracy.
While Kumaraswamy questioned the deadlines set by the Governor, Rao submitted that the apex court order was passed without involving the Congress legislature party, which presently has 79 MLAs in the Assembly.
The apex court on July 17 passed the order on the plea of the 15 rebel MLAs in which Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy were made respondents. Both the applications were filed at a time when the Assembly was debating the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy.
The SC order allowed the rebels to virtually ignore the “whip” to attend the proceedings of the legislature where they would have been forced to vote in favour of the motion. The Congress has alleged that the order was death knell for the defection law.
In his application, Kumaraswamy said the Governor cannot dictate to the House the manner in which the debate of the confidence motion has to be taken up.
“The directions of the Governor are completely contrary to the well settled law laid down by this court in relation to the Governor’s powers. The directions of the Governor are ex-facie in contravention of the judgment of the SC,” he said.
“It is respectfully submitted that as a result of the order dated July 17, the constitutional rights of the applicant under the Tenth Schedule are vitally affected and as such the instant application is being moved,” the Congress plea said.
It submitted that under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, a political party has a right to issue a whip to its legislators, the ground also taken by Kumaraswamy.
“The exercise of this right under the Constitution is not circumscribed by any condition nor can it be subject to any restrictive orders from the court even prior to the issuance of the whip. More importantly, any enquiry for the purposes of the Tenth Schedule is a proceeding of the Legislature of the State within the meaning of Article 212 of the Constitution,” both the applications said.
Earlier, pointing out that the debates and discussions in the Assembly appeared to be merely to delay the floor test, Vala in his letter to the Chief Minister referred to wild allegations about horse-trading and said it was Constitutionally imperative the floor test be completed without any delay and Friday itself.
Kumaraswamy responded saying he has received a “second love letter” and that he was hurt by it.
“I have received a second love letter,” said Kumaraswamy in the Assembly on the Governor’s second missive to him in two days.
The ruling coalition appeared to be in no hurry to face the trust vote with Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah saying the debate may go on till Monday after which the voting would take place since many MLAs have given their names to participate in the debate.
As the deadline neared, it vociferously questioned the Governor’s power to issue such a direction with Kumaraswamy citing a Supreme Court verdict that a Governor cannot act as ombudsman of the legislature. Kumaraswamy said he would not criticise the Governor and requested Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to decide whether the Governor can set a deadline.
Allegations of bribery flew thick and fast as the debate progressed with the ruling coalition Ministers and members targeting the BJP for its alleged toppling game.
“Legislators were offered Rs 40-50 crore to lure them; whose money is it?” asked Kumaraswamy hitting out at the BJP even as the Opposition members remained unruffled apparently to ensure there was no disorder that would disturb voting.
JD(S) MLA Srinivas Gowda alleged he was offered Rs 5 crore bribe by BJP to defect to bring down the Government.
Minister Sa Ra Mahesh alleged Vishwanath (JD-S former State president) had told him that he needs money as he has election-related loan of Rs 28 crore.
Krishna Byre Gowda alleged hundreds of crores of were being pumped in to bring down the Government.
In his speech, Kumaraswamy accused BJP of resorting to ways to circumvent the anti-defection law.
He asked BJP why it is in a hurry to end the trust vote debate in one day if it was sure of its numbers.
“Why is the BJP in a hurry, if they have the numbers… Why the hurry to end the debate in one day…. I know it is not easy to get your MLAs,” Kumaraswamy said looking towards BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa.
As the clock in the Assembly struck 1.30 pm, the BJP insisted on a division on the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy on Thursday in accordance with the letter by the Governor sent to him.
The House was then adjourned till 3 pm amid ruckus with both BJP and Congress members locked in heated exchanges over the Governor’s role. Vala on Thursday set the 1.30 pm deadline for proving the majority within hours after the voting on the confidence motion could not take place with the Speaker adjourning the day’s proceedings in the Assembly.
Saturday, 20 July 2019 | PNS | Bengaluru/New Delhi
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