New Delhi: The drama of the Karnataka political crisis culminated on Tuesday, with the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition failing to pass the trust vote. On the fourth day of discussion over the motion of condifence, the vote was finally held and the coalition could muster only 99 votes, while 105 votes were polled against it.
Chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy missed the 6 pm deadline set for the floor test by speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to prove majority in the house. The JD(S) chief could not complete his reply to the motion, but voting began at around 7:30 pm.
After Kumaraswamy submitted his resignation to governor Vajubhai Vala, it was accepted. Until alternative arrangements are made, he was asked to continue as caretaker chief minister.
Bengaluru: HD Kumaraswamy submits his resignation to Karnataka Governor, Vajubhai Vala. pic.twitter.com/uXxsucfat7
— ANI (@ANI) July 23, 2019
Meanwhile, the BJP will decide its future course of action during the party’s legislature meeting on Wednesday.
After the votes were announced, the BJP legislators began celebrating. The BJP called the coalition’s failure to pass the trust vote “the end of an era of corrupt & unholy alliance”. The party also promised a “stable and able governance” to the people of Karnataka.
BS Yeddyurappa & other Karnataka BJP MLAs show victory sign in the Assembly, after HD Kumaraswamy led Congress-JD(S) coalition government loses trust vote. pic.twitter.com/hmkGHL151z
— ANI (@ANI) July 23, 2019
The part’s state chief B.S. Yeddyurappa termed the development a “victory of democracy”.
BSP chief Mayawati has ordered the immediate suspension of its Karnataka MLA N. Mahesh, who abstained from the trust vote and violated party directions.
कर्नाटक में कुमारस्वामी सरकार के समर्थन में वोट देने के पार्टी हाईकमान के निर्देश का उल्लंघन करके बीएसपी विधायक एन महेश आज विश्वास मत में अनुपस्थित रहे जो अनुशासनहीनता है जिसे पार्टी ने अति गंभीरता से लिया है और इसलिए श्री महेश को तत्काल प्रभाव से पार्टी से निष्कासित कर दिया गया।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) July 23, 2019
Rahul Gandhi has called it a win for greed and a loss for democracy.
From its first day, the Cong-JDS alliance in Karnataka was a target for vested interests, both within & outside, who saw the alliance as a threat & an obstacle in their path to power.
Their greed won today.
Democracy, honesty & the people of Karnataka lost.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 23, 2019
Earlier, the speaker had said that he will not vote during the floor test, and would only do so in the event of a tie. Speaker Ramesh Kumar also apologised for “dragging” the trust vote, saying it was not his intention to do so.
During his reply, CM Kumaraswamy claimed that his government has delivered on all its promises. He said that work was based on “intuition, not superstition”.
‘BJP gained power through backdoor’
Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday flayed the BJP for gaining access to power through the “backdoor” and said an “unethical, illegal and anti-constitutional government” was coming to power in Karnataka.
“The BJP was coming to power through the backdoor. They (BJP) have no faith in democracy. They allowed defection, horse-trading and lured the MLAs,” Siddaramaiah told reporters after the Congress-JD(S) coalition government lost the trust vote.
Stating that the coalition government was formed according to constitutional provisions, the Congress leader alleged that the BJP purchased defectors to form a government though it did not have the mandate.
Rebel MLAs seek time
The 15 rebel MLAs of the Congress and the JD(S) have sought four weeks’ time to appear before speaker Ramesh Kumar in connection with the plea for their disqualification from the state assembly.
“Yes, we have sought four weeks’ time from the speaker. We have approached the speaker through our advocate,” Hunsur JD(S) MLA A.H. Vishwanath told PTI.
In their letter, whose contents are identical, the disgruntled MLAs, 13 of whom are camping in a Mumbai hotel, said a petition has been filed under Schedule-10 of the Constitution, by the party, seeking their disqualification.
They added that they were not in receipt of the copy of the petition or the documents annexed to it.
Stating they have learnt that their presence has been sought by Wednesday, the MLAs reminded the speaker that at least seven days time should be given to present their case.
Citing the case of Balchandra L. Jarkiholi versus B.S. Yeddyurappa in 2011, they requested the speaker to grant them four weeks’ time.
The Congress and the JD(S) had sought disqualification of their MLAs under the anti-defection law, but the rebels were not deterred by it and skipped the assembly proceedings during the crucial confidence vote on Tuesday.
A disqualified member loses seat but can get re-elected to the assembly.
As the hour neared for the trust vote in the Karnataka assembly, Bengaluru Police Commissioner Alok Kumar announced that the city will come under Section 144. All pubs and wine shops will be closed till July 25. Late in the afternoon, Congress workers alleged that the two Independent MLAs R. Shankar and H. Nagesh, who had withdrawn support from the coalition government in the state were holed up in a flat on Bengaluru’s Race Course Road. This led to protests and subsequent clashes among Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party workers.
As state chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s motion of confidence rolled into its fourth day in the assembly, the debate took on tropes of mudslinging which the state’s political landscape has been made quite familiar with in the last few days. Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar said it was not the Bharatiya Janata Party but the rebel MLAs of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) who had “backstabbed” him while the Congress’s legislative party head Siddaramaiah foretold a sure defeat for the “defectors”.
Much to the consternation of speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar, the treasury benches of the Vidhan Soudha, occupied by MLAs of the ruling coalition, had remained nearly empty early on the day. Around afternoon, a delegation from the Congress party, along with lawyers of the rebel MLAs met speaker Ramesh Kumar at his chamber in the assembly. It is not known exactly what they discussed.
Earlier in the morning, in New Delhi, Ramesh Kumar’s advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi assured the Supreme Court that the motion has been continued in the House without a break. The court said if the trust vote does not take place by Tuesday, it would hear the petition by the two Independent MLAs who have asked for its intervention to ensure that the trust vote is completed by 6 pm on July 23. Advocate for the MLAs, Mukul Rohatgi, said the court was “optimistic” of the trust vote taking place on Tuesday.
Mukul Rohatgi, representing #Karnataka rebel MLAs in SC: SC has passed an order saying that Court is optimistic that Speaker will hold floor test today; has kept the matter for tomorrow. I hope the Speaker realizes what his position is, what Constitution obliges him to do. pic.twitter.com/Yz9eeE9iDw
— ANI (@ANI) July 23, 2019
Petitions have also been filed in the Supreme Court by Kumaraswamy (against Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala’s deadline for the trust vote) and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee head Dinesh Gundu Rao (against the earlier apex court order allowing the 16 rebel MLAs to sit out the trust vote proceedings).
In the assembly, Congress leaders spoke one by one, amidst protests by the BJP, which has been steady in its demand that the coalition government must fall as it does not have majority, following the mass resignations of 16 of their MLAs.
In the early hours, that the treasury benches were occupied only by a couple of legislators after prolonged but almost usual drama that lasted almost till midnight on Monday, gave ammunition to the BJP.
B.S. Yeddyurappa, who has long since been assumed to be the man behind the machinery to bring down the Kumaraswamy government, said the dispensation had exposed itself. “In spite of not having the numbers, you are continuing shamelessly. You should be ashamed,” he told the treasury benches. He was echoed by BJP leaders like Jagadish Shettar, K.S. Eshwarappa, Basavaraj Bommai and Shobha Karandlaje.
Power greedy @hd_kumaraswamy again proving that he’s above anything & everything.
Despite having no majority,
-Keeps himself busy in clearing PWD & irrigation bills.
-Transfering 2000+ officials.
Now working overnight, just to save his source of commission!!?#ನುಡಿದಂತೆನಡೆಯಿರಿ
— Shobha Karandlaje (@ShobhaBJP) July 22, 2019
Speaker Ramesh Kumar, who had made it clear on Monday night that voting on the confidence motion would be completed by 6 pm on Tuesday, asked Congress minister Priyank Kharge, who was one of the few ruling coalition MLAs present if this “should be the fate of the speaker or the assembly.” The speaker then warned Kharge of the prospect of losing both credibility and strength.
Eventually, however, Congress MLAs did turn up, including the party’s man of the moment, D.K. Shivakumar.
DK Shivakumar, Congress, in Vidhana Soudha: Yes I was the reason MTB Nagaraj got a ticket. We spoke to him and he gave a statement as well. Couldn’t we have locked them up? No, because we have trust in them. Bring them here, let them vote against this government. pic.twitter.com/heDBeplbCx
— ANI (@ANI) July 23, 2019
On Monday, coalition members had forced the speaker to adjourn the House, despite repeated reminders by him that they had committed to complete the trust vote process within the day itself. Noisy protests notwithstanding, the Congress had insisted that it wanted to wait until the apex court heard the independent MLAs’ pleas on Tuesday.
Sixteen MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JD(S) — resigned in quick succession over the course of four days earlier in the month, setting off the events that have now culminated in the necessity of a trust vote.
One Congress member, Ramalinga Reddy, has meanwhile done a u-turn since resigning, and has said he would support the government.
The ruling combine’s strength is 117. Congress has 78 MLAs, JD(S) has 37, the Bahujan Samaj Party has one. There is also a nominated MLA and the speaker. With the support of two independents, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 225-member house, including the nominated MLA and speaker.
If the resignations of the 15 MLAs are accepted or if they stay away, the ruling coalition’s tally will plummet to 101, reducing the government to a minority.
This is a developing story and will be updated as the events unfold in Karnataka.
(With PTI inputs)