Karnataka legislative Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Thursday said that he needed time to scrutinise and get clarity on the resignation letters before accepting them, ANI reported. He said this after the rebel Karnataka MLAs of Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) coalition met him in Vidhana Soudha and submitted their resignations in the format prescribed.

Kumar said that he needed to examine the resignations of MLA’s all night to ensure they are genuine and voluntary. “The Supreme Court has asked me to take a decision,” said Kumar. “I have videographed everything and I will send it to the Supreme Court.”

He also claimed that the MLAs told him that some people had threatened them and went to Mumbai out of fear. “But I told them that they should’ve approached me & I would’ve given them protection,” Kumar said. “Only 3 working days have elapsed but they behaved like an earthquake occurred.”

Kumar said he was pained by the insinuation that he is delaying the process of their resignations. The legislators had alleged that speaker wanted to prolong the life of the ruling dispensation in Karnataka. “Governor informed me on 6th,” he said. “I was in office till then and later I left for personal work. Before that no MLAs informed that they were coming to meet me. On July 6, I was in my chamber till 1.30 pm. The MLAs came there at 2 pm, they didn’t even take prior appointment. So, it’s untrue that I ran away because they were coming.”

He said he scrutinised the resignations as per article 202 on Monday. “8 letters weren’t in prescribed format,” said Kumar. “In case of the rest, I’m obliged to look if resignations are voluntary and genuine. Won’t speak about voluntary and genuine nature of resignations,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

“The process is not about who is to be saved and who is to be persecuted. That is not my job as a Speaker,” Kumar was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

Kumar blamed the rebel MLAs and said they failed to communicate with him and rushed to meet the governor. He questioned what the governor can do in such a scenario and asked if this was not a misuse of law. “They approached the SC,” said Kumar. “My obligation is to people of this state & Constitution of the country. I am delaying because I love this land. I am not acting in haste.”

Vidhana Soudha has turned into a fortress with huge number of policemen deployed inside and outside. Entry of visitors have also been restricted with only secretariat staff being allowed inside.

The legislators were also heavily protected when they entered the secretariat.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had asked the rebel MLAs to be present before the Speaker by 6 pm. The Speaker had also 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. 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.

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 even as Congress leader DK Shivakumar tried to meet them on Wednesday.

Rebel MLAs say no change in decision

The rebel legislators said they will not change their decision to resign on Thursday. “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.