Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy speaks during the Assembly session at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Monday. (PTI)
IN AN unending battle of nerves, the Karnataka Assembly was adjourned till Tuesday without voting on the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy even after three days of debate, amid ruckus by Congress and JD(S), which insisted voting can await the Supreme Court ruling. As the House debated the motion with frequent scenes of pandemonium, Congress made its intentions clear that voting be deferred as apex Court was seized of pleas by two Independent MLAs on the issue of trust vote. The Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a fresh plea of two Independent Karnataka MLAs, seeking holding of the floor test “forthwith” in the State Assembly on the trust motion.
The MLAs who withdrew support to the ruling coalition have sought a direction to the Kumaraswamy Government to conduct the floor test on or before 5 pm on Monday. Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar adjourned the House at 11.45 pm after repeatedly reminding the Government it should honour its commitment to conclude the trust vote proceedings on Monday itself, but an unrelenting Congress created a ruckus towards the end of day’s proceedings. Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara were not present towards the end of proceedings, when Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah told the Speaker, “100 per cent voting can happen tomorrow.”
The Speaker, who seemed perturbed over the prolonged proceedings, stated categorically that the discussion would end by 4 pm on Tuesday and by 6 pm, the voting process would be completed. Serving a warning to the rebel MLAs, sequestered in a Mumbai hotel, senior minister D K Shivakumar reminded them that they would face disqualification if they did not turn up before the Speaker on Tuesday in response to his notice. Twenty MLAs, including 17 from the ruling coalition, skipped the proceedings Monday, besides two Independents and BSP member N Mahesh, who is supporting the government. Maintaining composure throughout, BJP members made repeated pleas to the Speaker to conclude the process on Monday itself without dragging it any further. The Assembly was adjourned for nearly two hours as Congress and JD(S) members demanded more time to discuss the confidence motion after the Speaker asked them to wind up quickly so that the trust vote process could be completed.
After the House resumed its sitting, JD(S)-Congress members raised slogans saying, “we want justice, we want discussion.” Senior Congress leader H K Patil insisted that the trust vote process should be completed after the Supreme Court decision and asserted “This is not a full House,” with rebel MLAs confined in Mumbai and not able to attend the session. “Let the MLAs return back,” Patil told the Speaker, as the Congress and JD(S) members shouted slogans, “let the Supreme court decide” and “save the Constitution”, creating a ruckus. Intervening, Kumaraswamy said the two Independent MLAs had approached the Supreme Court on the trust vote issue.
“If they had faith in you, why did they approach the Supreme Court?” he asked the Speaker. “We had agreed to conclude the trust vote process on Monday, but in the light of developments in the Supreme Court and with several MLAs wanting to speak, give us more time,” Kumaraswamy told the Speaker. Kumaraswamy also said that a fake letter with his forged signature that he had resigned was being circulated. “Similar rumours about me also,” said the Speaker. As the House met after an hour’s delay in the morning, the Speaker made it clear, “Everybody is watching us. Please don’t make me a scapegoat. Let us reach our goal,” stressing that the process should reach finality Monday.