Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking more time to decide on the resignations of rebel MLAs of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular). He moved the court hours after it had directed him to make a decision by Thursday itself and permitted the MLAs who have quit to meet Kumar at 6 pm to tender their resignations.
Over the past 10 days, 16 MLAs from the ruling coalition have resigned from the Karnataka Assembly, putting the survival of the government in jeopardy. Most of them were staying at a hotel in Mumbai and are now on their way to Bengaluru to meet the Speaker.
Kumar told the top court on Thursday that he needed time to verify if the resignations were voluntary or forced, according to the Hindustan Times. He claimed that this inquiry would take time, and also questioned if the court could dictate a timeline to the Assembly Speaker.
The Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi refused to hear this petition urgently and said it would take it up on Friday morning, when it continues to hear the petition filed by 10 rebel MLAs.
Ahead of the meeting with the dissident MLAs, Kumar said things “appeared murky” after the legislators approached the Supreme Court.
“I had not prevented them [disgruntled MLAs] from coming [to my office],” he said outside the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Thursday. “I don’t know why they moved the Supreme Court to meet me. There was no need for them to approach the court [for a direction] that I should meet them. They could have willingly come here. That itself shows the whole thing is murky.”
When asked if he would decide on the resignations today, he claimed that the Supreme Court had told him to take a call on the matter but not what decision must be taken.
Rebel MLAs say no change in decision
Meanwhile, the rebel legislators said they will not change their decision to resign. “We respect the Supreme Court’s directives,” rebel Congress MLA Byrathi Basavaraj told PTI. “We will meet the speaker today itself by 4 pm and tender our resignations. We will not withdraw our resignations.” Basavaraj and 13 other dissident colleagues were staying at the Renaissance Hotel in Powai, Mumbai, since Saturday.
“The BJP is not behind our decision,” he added. “It has nothing to do with the BJP.”
The coalition faces the threat of losing its majority in the Assembly if the resignations are accepted as its current tally is 116 in the 224-member House, which includes 78 Congress members, 37 JD(S) and one from Bahujan Samaj Party. If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted by the Speaker, the tally will be reduced to 100.
Of the 16 MLAs who have resigned, 13 are from the Congress and three are from the Janata Dal (Secular). The first to resign was Congress MLA Anand Singh. This was followed by senior leaders Ramalinga Reddy, BC Patil and Ramesh Jarkiholi. Other Congress legislators who have rebelled are Pratapgauda Patil, Shivram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumatahalli, ST Somashekar, Byrathi Basavaraj, Muniratna Naidu, SN Subba Reddy, MTB Nagaraj and K Sudhakar.
On the list of JD(S) MLAs who have submitted resignations are Narayana Gowda, Gopalaiah and AH Vishwanath.