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Karnataka: Kumaraswamy Moves SC over Governor's Letter, Congress Over Order on MLAs

Congress has alleged that the SC order which gave the rebel MLAs freedom to refrain from attending the floor test proceedings in the assembly was coming in the way of the party issuing whip to them.

The drama surrounding the trust vote of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government continued for the second day at the Karnataka assembly on Friday, dissolving into mild farce with mentions of black magic and demons. What was missing, more than 24 hours after the trust motion was moved, was the actual trust vote.

The focus on Friday shifted from the 20 MLAs who had chosen to remain absent from the proceedings to the particular role played by Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala on Thursday. Following a visit by a delegation of the Bharatiya Janata Party – which has been maintaining that the H.D. Kumaraswamy government has no majority and has been eager to get the trust vote completed soon – governor Vala wrote to the chief minister, asking him to complete the vote by 1.30 pm on Friday.

Vala had observed that the resignation of 15 MLAs “prima facie” indicated Kumaraswamy has lost the confidence of the house. He had also sent a missive earlier to speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to conclude the trust vote proceedings by the end of Thursday.

Not only did those deadlines come and go but amidst debate on whether the governor can issue orders regarding proceedings meant to be overseen by the speaker, Kumaraswamy moved Supreme Court and challenged the letter.

Governor’s ‘love letters’

In the assembly, where the speaker had declared that there would be “no scope for anything except the trust vote,” Kumaraswamy seemed to insinuate that the governor was influenced by the BJP high command in the national capital. “I leave the decision on the floor test to you (speaker). It won’t be directed by Delhi. I request you to protect me from the letter sent by the governor,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vala sent yet another letter to Kumaraswamy with the same plea, this time with the revised deadline of 6 pm. This too, came and went.

Kumaraswamy, who is known for his interesting choice of phrases when it comes to describing political developments, called these “love letters.”

“I have respect for the governor. But the second love letter from him has hurt me. He only came to know about horse trading 10 days ago?” he asked the assembly.

In his hand were printouts of photographs tweeted by ANI, purportedly showing an assistant of BJP’s Karnataka chief B.S. Yeddyurappa’s with Independent MLA H. Nagesh, who resigned from assembly and pledged support to BJP on July 8.

In his speech, Kumaraswamy charged that an atmosphere had been created from day one that “this government will go”.

“Let’s have a discussion. You can still form government…You can do it on Monday or Tuesday also. I am not going to misuse power,” Kumaraswamy told the BJP.

‘Black magic’

He cast doubts on how stable the BJP’s government would be, with the people who have chosen to support it now, and also asked the BJP why it was in a hurry to end the trust vote debate in one day if it was sure of its numbers.

The chief minister accused the BJP of resorting to ways to circumvent the anti-defection law and alleged that legislators were offered Rs 40 to 50 crore.

Kumaraswamy also hit out at the BJP’s incredibly allegation that his brother Revanna, who is known to be superstitious, has been casting black magic on the trust vote proceedings. “You blame Revanna for carrying a lemon. You (BJP) believe in Hindu culture but you attack him. He carries lemon with him and goes to a temple. But you accuse him of doing black magic. Is it even possible to save a government by black magic?” Kumaraswamy asked.

Meanwhile, JD(S) MLA Srinivas Gowda alleged that he was offered Rs 5 crore by the BJP to defect and help bring down the government. BJP promptly moved a privilege motion against the Kolar MLA.

Congress moves SC against July 17 order

Kumaraswamy was not the only person who moved the apex court on Friday. Karnataka Congress also moved Supreme Court contending that its July 17 order on the resignation of 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs was coming in the way of the party issuing whip to its legislators in the ongoing trust vote.

The application filed by Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao sought clarification on the order which said the 15 rebel MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the ongoing Assembly proceedings, saying that the direction compromises with the party’s right to issue whip.

It said the apex court order “whittles down” the power of a political party to issue whip to its MLAs as it has a constitutional right to do so and the court can’t restrict that.

Further, in the plea, it is stated that the order was passed without involving the Congress legislature party, which presently has 79 MLAs in the Karnataka Assembly.

“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,” it said.

The state Congress further submitted that under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, a political party has a right to issue a whip to its legislators.

(With PTI inputs)