Karnataka Action In Top Court Today; “Going Strong,” Says HD Kumaraswamy
Bengaluru: The Karnataka assembly meets today amid questions over the ruling Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition’s survival after 18 resignations. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has tweeted that he is “confident” despite “efforts to destabilise” his government.
“Congress-JDS coalition in the state is going strong despite the efforts to destabilise. We are confident and prepared for a smooth and fruitful conduct of legislative sessions,” Mr Kumaraswamy tweeted late last night, hours after he ruled out resigning.
The Congress has ordered its lawmakers to attend the session and so has the JDS, which had put up its members at a resort just outside Bengaluru to keep its flock intact.
Reports of the JDS of Chief Minister Kumaraswamy negotiating with rival BJP started buzzing last night when state Minister Sa Ra Mahesh of the JDS was seen in the company of BJP leaders including KS Eshwarappa at a guest house. The Chief Minister tweeted that nothing should be read into the meeting and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa echoed the view.
The resignation of 18 lawmakers is yet to be accepted by Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, who has been accused of stalling for time on behalf of the ruling coalition.
The Supreme Court will today take up the petition of 10 of the rebel lawmakers, who have alleged that they were being threatened and that the Speaker was sitting on their resignation letters in violation of the Constitution.
On the court’s orders, the Speaker last evening met with the 10 lawmakers, who came to his office in the Vidhana Souda or assembly building in Bengaluru under police escort, and with blank papers. The Speaker had rejected many letters on grounds of “wrong format” so the lawmakers reportedly wrote down fresh resignations in front of him. Later, they flew back to Mumbai, where they have been staying since they quit on Saturday.
The Speaker had been asked to inform the court of his decision last night, but he said: “You can’t expect me to work at lightning speed.”
The Speaker has also approached the same bench of the Supreme Court that is hearing the rebels’ petition. He has asked for time to examine whether the resignations were coerced or voluntary. Mr Kumar said it was his constitutional duty to verify the resignations.
The BJP, which will have a majority if the resignations are accepted, says the coalition government must resign because it has “lost its moral authority to rule.” The party has been accused by the Congress and the JDS of crafting the crisis to try and seize power in Karnataka, more than a year after it fell short of a majority in state polls.
A Supreme Court decision may indicate whether the coalition stays or goes.
If the resignations are accepted, the coalition’s 118 members will come down to 100 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 105. The BJP has 105 members and the support of the two Independents, which takes its tally to 107.